There is one simple and secure way to jump start the economy and sustain it over a decade. That one simple idea is to nationalize the natural gas industry. In fact, not only is it good in a positive way, but the nationalization of the production and distribution of natural gas will prevent a negative…the takeover of our last national resource by Right Wing billionaires.
Before you cry “Socialism” remember that we have a long history of government providing safe and secure utilities for the People. We have regulated utilities since the early 1800s in one way or another. And local utilities were owned by the public for generations until the disastrous Reagan-era mistake that said “private is better.”
Public ownership and regulation are standard in many utilities. We often hear people say that water is essential for life and so water must be made available for everyone. And so water is by and large a public utility. Government jumps in when the air we breathe begins to hurt us. So we have the EPA. Government gets involved in providing shelter by making mortgages available to people so that they can take root in a community and are not left to the whims of a landlord. And when we try to “privatize” it, it fails dramatically, as it did in 2008, resulting in the Great Bush Depression.
Natural gas itself has a long history of regulation. The industry began locally in a number of areas, but then it was piped or shipped across state lines. As a result, states lost control and the Supreme Court said that the states did not have the authority. In 1935, the Federal Trade Commision changed all that and in 1938, the government regulated prices on natural gas and gave the business of natural gas some structure.
And natural gas stayed very heavily regulated for 40 years. In 1978, the Natural Gas Policy Act, responding to natural gas shortages, put into place greater incentives for national gas production. A number of rules were issued by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) during the 1980s and in 1992 virtually all regulations on natural gas pipeline and natural gas sales organizations were removed.
Now we have a pretty much unregulated industry. So, as happens with all public and profitable ventures, the vultures are descending. T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oil man and corporate raider, who takes over corporations in trouble, strips them and sells them for a profit after firing everyone, wants a huge tax credit for the production and use of natural gas.
Pickens and his group want to convert government vehicles and over-the-road trucks to natural gas and get a tax break in the process. The Natural Gas Act, in the absence of any other intelligent proposals to lessen our reliance on gasoline, he has earned the support of over 200 companies and a number of gas industry Senators. They are pushing hard to take your natural resources and give them to Boone Pickens, who is portraying himself as some kind of Patriot for trying to further enrich himself!
So let us see just how patriotic all these gents are. Let’s see if they will agree that a much better idea is to nationalize the natural gas industry. It makes unparalleled common sense.
According to Pickens, the U.S. has more natural gas than the Arabs have oil. It is clean and easily obtainable. The thing is…Pickens and his pals want to keep all your revenues. A better idea is this. In one piece of legislation, declare eminent domain over all lands in the U.S. under which there is natural gas. Then both drill for that natural gas, using a government agency, the Department of Energy, and buy up all existing leases from people who want to get out before the unlimited government production makes their leases worthless.
That’s right. They will become worthless because the United States would then go all-out to do exactly what Boone Pickens says should be done. We believe him. We should create vehicles and use cheap natural gas to heat our government buildings, make it available to power government and over-the-road vehicles. We should allow everyone to participate in this natural resource that belongs to all of us.
There is about 2.5 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas under the U.S. At a current price of roughly $5 per cubic foot, the total potential is about $11 trillion dollars, enough to make this country solvent while reducing the national debt by at least $300 billion a year.
It would create something like 500,000 skilled and unskilled permanent government jobs. It would cut the trade imbalance with the Middle East to zero. It would reduce unemployment and change at least $50 billion of the deficit to a $50 billion in positive personal income tax revenues. It would reduce the interest on the debt by $9 billion a year.
If we bought up all the leases from people who realized that the prices that they would get from natural gas would not be worth the investment, then we could begin to lower natural gas prices by simply producing as much as we want and need for homes, factories, utilities and vehicles. Gasoline prices would drop through the floor. Oil companies would make only realistic profits….and gasoline would drop to less than two dollars a gallon.
All revenues would go to the federal government. The resulting improvement in government, in health care funding, in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (the government could afford to pay back some of the money that it has borrowed) and in social services.
Even at current usage, natural gas is roughly an annual $120 billion enterprise here in the U.S. When expanded through lower prices to more industries and more applications, that number will most certainly double. That means an inflow to the government of revenues, even at adjusted natural gas prices, of approximately $200 billion a year in added revenues. As opposed to letting Pickens and his friends at BP, Chevron, Exxon and others profit billions from it, pay no taxes and use their funds to support Right Wing Fascist organizations. We really have no choice.
At first it may seem far fetched, even preposterous. It is not. It requires only one thing…the unanimous support of Congress plus one Congressman or Senator to initiate the legislation. If the Occupy Wall Street members, if the Democrats in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan and other states, like Illinois, where there are rational Middle Class citizens, it can be done. Once the federal government has determined that all new natural gas finds will belong to the people and will be drilled and shipped by the Department of Energy, then it will be done.
We can offer a fair price to all those who currently have natural gas leases, including the large corporations who, if they do not sell soon, will find that the value of their investments will drop so low that it will take two lifetimes to recover their value. Remember, the goal of private industry is high price…for profit. The goal of government is low price…to keep cost of living lower for the citizen.
Now is the time to act. If you are part of an organization, group together with another of similar objective. Once we have enough voters working for an entire new society, starting but by no means ending, with nationalized natural gas, we will restore the Middle Class.