Freelance journalist Mark Engler presented Emerson’s Fall Honors Program lecture on October 13. Engler addressed the current state of the marketplace and politics surrounding oil. His presentation, titled “Pay the True Cost of Oil: Why We Need to Go Beyond Market Thinking to Protect the Environment and Create a Fair Economy,” dealt with the issues surrounding what people actually pay for at the pump.
The lecture began with an overview of corporate practices of oil companies, touching on Exxon and BP, and their crisis control methods when dealing with catastrophic oil spills. Engler discussed how these companies minimize the cost of cleanups by waiting for the situation to leave the public’s minds. Since most oil companies rely on investors and stock for survival, Engler said the companies want to avoid high costs of crisis control so they don’t lose the support of stockholders in the market.
According to Engler, the national average cost for a gallon of gas is currently $2.82. When factoring in the $90 billion price tag for military costs to secure oil, government subsidies, environmental and health costs, and the impact of global warming, the estimated true cost of a gallon of gas is $12.02. Engler contends that these hidden costs only further America’s dependence on oil and fuel these corporations’ deceptive practices in the marketplace. He called for a different relationship between the market and government in order to change the marketplace.
Engler serves as a commentator for both the Institute for Public Accuracy and for the Mainstream Media Project. His articles, which mainly focus on foreign policy, deal with the global economy, social movements, Latin American affairs, militarism, domestic politics, and the environment his work has appeared in publications including Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Ecologist.