(RaceTalkRadio.com; January 2, 2012)
Everyone is familiar with the term “Conflict Diamonds” but few people are as concerned about the use of “Conflict Oil.” Mining of diamonds via slave labor helped finance some of the worst civil war atrocities in African nations in the twentieth century. After the attacks of 911 I thought the world would get equally irate about the financing of terrorism from the sales of oil from the Middle East. But ten years later nothing has changed. Turn on the news and you will hear about Iran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz choking off the supply of oil from that region. The United States has spent over $1.3 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and it would be very costly to keep the Strait of Hormuz open if the Iranians try to back up their threats. Shouldn’t we all demand information on the sourcing for petroleum products so we know if we are using “Conflict Oil” in our cars and trucks? NASCAR should be bragging about the official gasoline of NASCAR because Sunoco does use ethical oil to make their products.
Green Instead of Ethical Oil Bragging
Last year we were told by NASCAR that their switch to 15% ethanol in their fuels showed that NASCAR was becoming more “Green.” Physics professor Diandra Leslie-Pelecky did an excellent analysis of the claims of ethanol being a “Greener” alternative. Politics are often the main factor in the “Green” movement nowadays and NASCAR’s use of ethanol seemed to be driven more by sponsorship from American Ethanol than environmental concerns. While the use of ethanol can be applauded for limiting our need for more “Conflict Oil,” the “Green” aspects of ethanol are open to debate. There is no debating the source for Sunoco products and the ethanol used in the blend…both come from “Ethical” sources.
Sourcing of Sunoco Products
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA is the clearing house for information about the source of every drop of petroleum used in products in the United States. Based on the last six months of data from the EIA; Sunoco uses oil from ethical sources instead of Middle Eastern companies that have been indirectly linked to the funding of terrorism or from Venezuela which is also linked to unsavory activities.
The oil imported by Sunoco for their refineries over the last six months came from Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Lithuania, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. While some of the African nations on the list have less than perfect governments, they are all democratic nations without links to terrorism. Admittedly Sunoco refineries are not able to handle the heavy crude from the Middle East. The light crude they use does have sourcing from some less than ethical countries but none of those countries were used by Sunoco in the last six months.
Other NASCAR Sponsors Using Conflict Oil
While Sunoco deserves our praise there are a few other companies involved with NASCAR that use “Conflict Oil.” Many countries have been directly or indirectly linked to unsavory activity and profits from oil have been a huge source of funding for those activities. Most of the 911 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and it is widely accepted that some of the funding of Al-Qaeda has come from wealthy individuals inside of that country. The human rights violations of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have been well documented by groups such as Amnesty International. The analysis of “Conflict Oil” imports over the last six months show that NASCAR sponsors Dow Chemical, Shell and Mobil use oil imports from Saudi Arabia and/or Venezuela in their products. While it is impossible to know the source of that gasoline from your local station, these companies involved in NASCAR have sourced their imports from those countries in the last six months. Also Shell Oil has exported gasoline products to Iran, which is directly linked to terrorist activities.
Sourcing at the Pump
If you peruse the oil import data at the EIA website you will understand the complexity of letting consumers know the source of the product they are pumping in their tanks on a week by week basis. But almost every product sold in the United States or Canada shows the consumer the country of origin. It would be possible to let the consumer know general information about where the oil used to produce their gasoline originated. Once the mainstream media started reporting about “Conflict Diamonds” the problem quickly was contained. Sure there are some producers in the diamond trade that have played games with the sourcing but they have been shamed when the truth came to light.
Where is the similar concern about “Conflict Oil?” Consumers could vote with their gasoline purchases not to finance terrorism if they had sourcing information for the product they were choosing. NASCAR fans can also support political candidates that demand the use of “Ethical Oil” including the development of the Keystone Pipeline to tap into the rich resources of Canada. After all the only bad things Canada has ever exported to the United States are Canada Goose poop and cold air. In the meantime NASCAR fans can be very proud of Sunoco for using “Ethical Oil” for the production of their products and fill up their tanks with Sunoco gasoline.
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The views above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RaceTalkRadio.com LLC or our sponsors. Information to support opinions in this article came from the following online sources:
US Energy Information Administration (EIA)
NASCAR and E15: The Scientific Facts from Building Speed
National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States: Monograph on Terrorist Financing
Amnesty International: Human Rights in Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela