Boycott the oil companies

By Jackson Thoreau

The U.S. Senate's mid-March vote to rape one of the last remaining wilderness areas on the planet leaves many of us with little choice. We need to boycott the oil companies, as much as we can.

This country has a long history of boycotts, including the colonial boycotts of British products in the 1700s and the bus boycott by the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Economic boycotts are among the few things our corporate and political leaders respond to and fear.

I have already been boycotting buying gasoline from ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, the oil companies most in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When I buy gas, I do so from BP and ConocoPhillips, which have backed down from drilling in ANWR, and Shell, which gives the least amount of cash to Republican politicians among the large oil conglomerates.

From now on, I plan to limit my driving and take public transit or walk when possible. I don't plan to drive across the country again, at least not until we get decent energy and foreign policies that are not driven by the oil companies, which raise gasoline prices to create more public pressure every time Congress votes on an issue they want like drilling in ANWR. When I do drive, I will drive vehicles that get at least 25 miles per gallon – my present vehicle gets 28 mpg. I will fly across the country because the planes keep on schedules anyway, irregardless of the number of passengers.

I will lobby for alternative energy research and development, and for Congress blocking a vote on the full budget, which would kill the ANWR plan. I also plan to boycott Hawaii since the two DEMOCRATIC senators from Hawaii who could have stopped this plan voted to drill ANWR. They reportedly made a deal with the devilish Republican Senate leader Bill Frist to vote for drilling ANWR in exchange for Frist allowing a bill recognizing the rights of Native Hawaiians to be debated in the Senate. I'll spend my vacations in a real blue state or a decent country like Canada.

Remember reading about the Boston Tea Party, in which colonial activists disguised as Native Americans smashed 342 crates and dumped 45 tons of British tea into the Boston Harbor in 1773 as a stronger statement? Some say we need some Boston Tea Party-like statements, such as people disguised as corporate and political leaders – perhaps with Bush and Cheney masks on - going to gas stations at night and spilling gas from the nozzles.

Sure, that is risky. The Sons of Liberty – and Daughters - took risks in 1773. Few people living in the colonies supported them then – even Ben Franklin criticized the Boston Tea Party activists. Now many school textbooks glorify them as heroes.

I don't know if we should go that far, but I'm not going to do a Ben Franklin and criticize anyone who does. I think we can just go to service stations when we regularly pump gasoline into our vehicles, and when we are done, take the nozzle and place it on the ground as a symbolic protest, rather than put the nozzle back on the hook. That way if somebody, such as a service station employee, should see you do that and question it, you can just say it was an oversight, like all these big corporate executives give the excuse that they didn't know their companies illegally cheated and cooked the books, that it was just an oversight done by someone else.

If enough people across the country do this symbolic protest when they pump gasoline, it would get noticed.

If enough of us boycott the oil companies as much as we can, we can make a difference. What do we have to lose, except gain more money to spend elsewhere, rather than give to the oil interests that rape our environment?

Jackson Thoreau, a Washington, D.C.-area journalist, contributed to Big Bush Lies, published by RiverWood Books and available in bookstores across the country. Thoreau's latest electronic book, The Strange Death of the Woman Who Filed a Rape Lawsuit Against Bush & Other Things the Bush Administration Doesn't Want You to Know, can be
read at He can be reached at or

No comments: