We’ve slogged through many years of daily news about the oil industry globally, nationally and locally. We’ve read of myriad deals among corporations and nations eager to acquire wealth by supplying us with the oozy remains of long-dead dinosaurs. We’ve cringed at every “spill” (you gotta hand it to whomever co-opted that relatively benign word so it’s used irrespective of the volume of oil released), and we’ve been horrified at the huge blowouts such as BP’s famed 3-month gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lately, we’ve experienced fracking, that lightly regulated practice of dumping exotic mixes of toxic chemicals (usually vaguely identified) and millions of gallons of precious water deep underground in an effort to force out oil and gas. We’ve also learned to fear the long-time object of America’s affection, the trains, as they began hauling volatile crude in tanker cars prone to rupturing when derailed, threatening horrendous conflagrations such as the one at Lac-Mégantic in Quebec.

And there are fracking-associated health concerns which came to the attention of public health experts only relatively recently. And the wars, oh lord, the wars that have obliterated, permanently maimed and displaced unknown numbers of human (and other) beings as one group or nation confronted the other in fierce struggles for oil.

Subsidies we provide for oil have cost us, too. It’s estimated a whopping $470 billion was bestowed on the oil and gas industry by the US over the last century. Those subsidies have become entrenched in the national budget and governmental and industry expectations. Current US oil subsidies are reportedly around $4.8 billion a year, about half going to ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips. Holy cows indeed!

Lately, however, things have not seemed so rosy. An oil glut on the international scene, which began early fall of last year, and recognition that a lot of oil is languishing in storage, led to a major retraction in oil prices globally—from a high of $109 (Brent) in May, 2014 to $60.48 (Brent) yesterday. Break-even charts (here, here, here, here) illustrate which oil producers are in greater danger from the recent plunge in price and there is the steady drip, drip, drip of negative news.

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