The Windfall Profits Tax Monster Is Back," so headlined the Houston Chronicle. The GOP’s defeat of a bill that would have put a 25% excess, or "windfall" profits tax on oil profits led some wags among the oiligopoly to crow that "even a broken clock is right twice a day" (meaning the Senate.)
For a different perspective, listen to Dan Stormer, a lawyer who’s representing Nigerian plaintiffs in a case against Chevron. With the economy on the dive and many blaming high oil prices, Stormer, says that when you tally in the blood that’s spilled in oil production, oil’s price may be far too low. As for "windfall" profits– that’s blood-money.
Ten years ago last month, Nigerian security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in the Niger Delta, killing two and injuring others. The people shot were protesting, says Stormer, for nothing more than what they’d been promised: jobs, schools, water they could drink, economic development. Now four Nigerian plaintiffs are suing Chevron in US federal court. Nigerian soldiers were paid by a subsidiary of Chevron, they say, and the company bears responsibility for the murders. Trial dates are set for September.
In the meantime, Stormer, lead counsel in one of the cases (Bowoto v. Chevron) is calling on all of us to reflect: our pain at the pump is nothing in comparison to what the Nigerians are enduring for oil.
"Going to Nigeria entirely changed my way of thinking about environmentalism," Stormer told GRITtv. Should poor workers here be happy to pay more? Not exactly, but oil company execs should CERTAINLY be forced to fork over a larger share of their profits.
May I add (not Stormer here, but Flanders) Condoleezza Rice, who served ten-years on the Chevron Board and for whom the company named a tanker, had blood on her hands long before she got in up to her neck in Iraq. No one with a soul would want their name on a vessel that represented this much devastation. The entire conversation certainly shifts your attitude to all those headlines about Big Oil "saved" and "painful" prices. The "price" we are paying is peanuts.