For decades the U.S. opposed European projects to receive energy from Russia. It wants Europe to buy more expensive U.S. oil and gas. Europe's, and especially Germany's industry, depends on cheap energy from Russia. Without it Europe will be de-industrialized and go broke. The U.S. had threatened to disable the pipelines connecting Europe to Russia. Currently the U.S. is winning its war on Europe's, mainly Germany's, industries and people. Yesterday's sabotage attack on the Nord Stream I and II pipelines, which are supposed to bring Russian natural gas to Germany, mean that the the war on Germany has entered its hot phase. A question remains: Whodunnit? Russia has no motive to destroy the pipelines it owns. These are valuable, long term assets and the gas that escaped from them yesterday was on its own worth some $600 to $800 million.
“We were wondering if Mayor Paine is available?” I asked. My words were muffled by the dog mascot costume I was wearing. Next to me was a canvasser and the two camera operators filming us. We were at City Hall in Superior, Wisconsin on April 25 to spread the word about Husky Friends — the name we’d given to a so-called community outreach initiative from Husky Energy, owner of the local refinery that exploded in 2018 and triggered an evacuation of much of the city. With the refinery possibly reopening, Husky Friends was there to “assuage residents’ concerns.” “Oh sure! Let me see if he has a moment,” the receptionist responded. Wait, what!? This wasn’t supposed to be happening. We thought it’d be interesting to get footage of a dog mascot trying to meet the mayor, but we never thought he’d actually come out and talk with us.
Detroit, Michigan - Recurring power outages have become a fact of life in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. The most recent mass outage left hundreds of thousands in Metro Detroit without power following a brief windstorm on August 29th. Four days on, tens of thousands were still unable to run their medical devices and prevent their food from spoiling. With outages becoming more severe and more frequent as the climate crisis worsens, profit-driven utilities want to take more out of the pockets of working people struggling to afford their unreliable energy service. Even before the most recent outages, the frustration in Detroit and surrounding areas was palpable. On Monday, August 22, hundreds demonstrated and turned out to a public hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to denounce DTE’s latest exorbitant electricity rate hike amid soaring inflation and perennial outages.
On Saturday, September 17, trade unions and other working class sections hit the streets across Austria protesting the government’s inefficiency in tackling the ongoing cost of living crisis. The protests called by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (OGB) saw the participation of various groups including the Party of Labor of Austria (PdA), Youth Front, Communist Youth of Austria (KJO), Communist Party of Austria (KPO), and Links, among others. Marches were held in cities in all federal States including Vienna, Eisenstadt, Bruck an der Mur, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Bregenz, Lower Austria, and Upper Austria. According to the organizers, over 30,000 people participated in the protests, with 20,000 people having marched in Vienna alone. The protesters called on the politicians to take concrete actions to tackle the current crisis.
European society is currently undergoing a real-time experiment in energy contraction. Sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have led to a dramatic reduction in imports of Russian oil and natural gas. The Europeans are still receiving some Russian oil via pipeline though that flow was reduced last month. The reasons for the decline in natural gas deliveries from Russia—deliveries not prevented by Western sanctions—are disputed with each side accusing the other of being the cause. Those of us who have been warning about the coming energy stringency believed that it would result from the rising cost of extracting hydrocarbons—and the inability to bring new production online faster than production is declining from existing wells. In Europe, we are getting an early preview of what such a future looks like when a society is unprepared for a sudden decline in the availability of oil and natural gas.
New documents released by a congressional committee show that major oil companies, under pressure from the worsening climate crisis, have carefully crafted public messages to convey an effort of transitioning to cleaner technologies, but that the campaigns appear aimed at obscuring the fact that they remain “devoted to a long-term fossil fuel future,” the committee report states. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a memo on September 14 that detailed documents and internal communications from oil companies including BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil, which show efforts to heavily promote their investments in promising technologies to address climate change, such as algae biofuels and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), while internally expressing doubt about the viability and immediacy of those investments.
This is Ben Norton of Multipolarista. I’m joined by one of my favorite guests today, the brilliant economist Michael Hudson. And there are a lot of things that we plan on talking about today. We’re going to address the partial student debt relief in the United States, and the problem of debt, which is something that Professor Hudson has written a lot about. We’re going to talk about the inflation crisis, and some of the history of responses to the inflation that we’ve seen in the US. For instance, I’m going to pick Professor Hudson’s brain about Richard Nixon’s response. Nixon imposed price controls and froze wages for the first time since World War Two. We’re also going to talk about the history of the Volcker shock, when Paul Volcker, who was the head of the Fed, raised interest rates to a level never seen before.
Athens, Greece – The blades of the wind turbines on the mountain range opposite my window are turning especially energetically today. Last night’s storm has abated but high winds continue, contributing extra kilowatts to the electricity grid at precisely zero additional cost (or marginal cost, in the language of the economists). But the people struggling to make ends meet during a dreadful cost-of-living crisis must pay for these kilowatts as if they were produced by the most expensive liquefied natural gas transported to Greece’s shores from Texas. This absurdity, which prevails well beyond Greece and Europe, must end.
The European Union has collectively committed itself to a long proxy conflict against Russia in Ukraine, despite being critically energy dependent on oil and gas imports from Russia. If however, you listened to the words of their top bureaucrats, such as Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, one might never believe there is any problem. They talk about reducing energy dependency on Moscow as a quick and painless process, and vowed multiple times to "cripple Putin's war machine," determined no matter what to return a "European path" to Ukraine. But things haven't been going to plan.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central Prague on Saturday for a march dubbed ‘Czech Republic First,’ urging the government to resign over soaring energy prices and inflation, and to drop anti-Russia sanctions. According to police estimates, some 70,000 took part in the rally, with the organizers putting the figure at 100,000. The event brought together people from across the political spectrum, with the Communist Party and right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy Party taking part. “The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, mainly in solving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this autumn,” one of the event’s co-organizers, social democrat Jiri Havel, told local media.
The Police of the State of Puerto Rico, a dependent territory of the United States, dispersed Thursday night a demonstration of dozens of Puerto Ricans in Old San Juan, who were staging a protest against LUMA Energy due to the constant power outages. This is the most recent episode of the protests that have been shaking the Caribbean island for days, although it is the first one that culminated with a confrontation between demonstrators and police, and one person arrested. The Teachers Federation also joined Thursday night's protest, as did the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Juan Dalmau. The demonstrations followed calls made last Monday by a group of legislators from the House of Representatives and social organizations to mobilize as a way to put pressure on the pro-U.S. Governor Pedro Pierluisi to cancel the contract granted to LUMA Energy.
A new wave of strikes are underway across the UK. From postal workers to barristers, organised labour is turning out on picket lines against the backdrop of looming energy cost hikes. Workers across the UK are fighting back by withdrawing labour, sharing their experiences and, on one occasion, surfing around ports at high speed! The strikes come as Don’t Pay, which is campaigning to encourage people to refuse to pay extortionate energy bills, reported an 80% hike had been nodded through by regulator Ofgem. Don’t Pay’s East London branch also announced a protest at Canary Wharf for Saturday 27 August. Postal workers are striking as part of the Communication Workers Union over pay. Royal Mail bosses have been paying themselves massive bonuses, even as the cost of living crisis has ramped up
A wave of wildcat strikes by subcontracted workers broke out across refineries and power stations in the UK Wednesday, amid continuing walkouts by Amazon workers. Workers are protesting wages falling massively behind the spiraling cost of living. The sites affected are covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industry (NAECI), concluded by the Unite and GMB unions with the Engineering and Construction Industry Association (ECIA) in August 2021. The “Blue Book” agreement was cheered by Jock Simpson, the chairman of the National Joint Council for the Engineering and Construction Industry, as the “means of managing labor relationships to deliver project completions to time and budget” and as the “key to industrial relations stability”.
The oil and gas industry, one of the most powerful corporate forces in American politics, has spent more than $200 million over the past year and a half to stop Congress from slashing carbon emissions as evidence of their catastrophic impact—from deadly heatwaves to massive wildfires—continues to accumulate in stunning fashion. That topline estimate of the fossil fuel industry's lobbying outlays and congressional election spending in the U.S. was calculated by Climate Power, which provided its findings exclusively to Common Dreams. Nearly 80% of the industry's campaign donations during the time period examined went to Republican candidates, according to Climate Power, whose analysis draws on data from OpenSecrets.
On the morning of June 27, 2022, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shop steward David Fankomo joined his fellow members at the picket line outside Eskom’s Emalahleni office in the heart of South Africa’s coal belt. Workers at Eskom, the nation’s state-owned electricity utility, have been embattled in four rounds of wage negotiations with the executives since April 2022. South Africa is rich in energy but is in the midst of cascading energy shortages. Fankomo’s union is at the heart of this crisis: the workers bring the coal out of the ground but live with barely enough of its energy. On June 28, Eskom announced that it was going to implement “Stage 6 load shedding” due to “unlawful industrial action.” “Load shedding” is defined as a rationing measure to reduce the demand for electrical energy by imposing rotational power outages when the supply from power plants is severely constrained.