The Western Socialist
Vol. 35 - No. 261
No. 1, 1968
pages 20-21


Smog! Another pollutant resulting from capitalist industry. Man may live three weeks without food; three days without water; but only three minutes without air. And clean fresh air is as necessary to man as clean fresh water.

Here in California's sunny southland, once subject matter for panegyrics by Chambers of Commerce, Booster Clubs, etc., we have been plagued for more than two decades with this nauseating phenomenon, increasing in magnitude and intensity as time goes by. Recently we suffered an uninterrupted four-day attack which, as usual, brings out the protestors and the experts.

On a recent TV newscast, the representative of the local station for NBC, interviewed the head of the Edison Company in Los Angeles. This company operates a generating plant, as also does the city-owned Water and Power Department. An amusing but revealing dialogue ensued between the Edison executive and the NBC man. It was shown that when smog reaches the "alert" stage in summer these plants substitute for fuel oil, natural gas which is less harmful. But as the winter approaches the domestic draft on natural gas becomes so heavy that the power plants cannot be allowed to use it.

Both of them, however, are seeking to import higher grade oil from Indonesia. This oil has only .03 sulphur ash content, while domestic oil reaches a deadly 1.75. The NBC man questioned Edison on this and suggested that opposition of powerful interests prevented the importation of Indonesian oil. Edison seemed to be a very reluctant witness and exhibited, for a company head, a woeful ignorance. He admitted, finally, that he heard of some opposition.

"Who," queried the NBC man "was the opposition?"

"Well," answered Edison, somewhat sheepishly, "although I have heard stories of some opposition I don't know the names of the companies. (Emphasis ours) .

"But," NBC continued its prodding "Is there not a bill before Congress, despite Sec'y. Udall's approval of the Indonesian oil importation, to prevent such importation?"

"Yes," stammered Edison, "It's a Senate Bill" — and this apparently ignorant executive gave the number, "Senate Bill 2332."

It has since been disclosed that this bill is sponsored by the Senate Majority Whip, Long of Louisiana.

The NBC man turned his photogenic phiz to the camera and thus to the view of the astonished viewing multitude, and concluded: "All the oil companies of the country are lobbying for this bill, all except two, "Standard Oil and Texaco."

So, said I to myself : "There are still some humanists left. Two companies evidently are concerned with the comfort and health of the community."

Then, like a bomb dropping on an enemy position came his concluding sentence: "But those two companies have a heavy vested interest in Indonesian oil." Well!