Here's the reply I sent to my well-meaning correspondents (which is also similarly reasoned on the Snopes Urban Legends site):You might want to make a copy of this and keep it in your car. Looks like we're subsidizing a bunch of murdering misfits by buying Mideast oil/gas.
WHERE TO BUY YOUR GAS, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW. READ ON--
Why didn't George W. think of this? (Think??)
Gas rationing in the 80's worked even though we grumbled about it.
It might even be good for us!
The Saudis are boycotting American goods.
We should return the favor.
An interesting thought: boycott their GAS.
Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia. Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis.
Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.
I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil. Thse are the latter:
Shell............................. 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco......... 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil............... 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway... 117,740,000 barrels
If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!
But of course $30 a barrel was 2 months ago, Now it's $50+ a barrel
Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
ARC0. 0 barrels
All this information is available from the Department of Energy and each is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.
But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers.
It's really simple to do.
Now, don't wimp out at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!
I'm sending this note to about thirty people.
If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers!
If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!
If it goes one level further, you guessed it ..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!
Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people.
How long would all that take?
If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next eight days!
So . . . DO IT !
Hate to rain on the parade, but there are two flaws with the boycott campaign, which has been circulating the Internet for several years now, one factual, the other logical. (Plus the idea of picking and choosing "good" and "bad" oil companies flies in the face of common sense.)
(1) The statements about source buying are untrue. Most producers buy from a fluid mix of suppliers.When you buy a tank of gas, you have no idea where it came from and rarely does the retailer. In general, levels of imports vary by location in the US of the outlet relative to the supply; for instance, we get more Alaskan crude here in California because of the fact we're closer to Alaska than Saudi Arabia.
(2) Oil is a commodity, and laws of supply and demand hold true. So since our demand levels require a certain amount of imports, any hypothetical boycott would have zero effect on the supplier countries, even if, say, Exxon were bankrupted by such a move. The overall demand means somebody else would buy from the Saudis. And in turn, the Saudis are going to be happy to sell to, say, the Chinese, whose demand may outstrip urs within ten years, so that won't solve the problem of oligarchic power in the mideast.
While well-meaning, I'm sure, a better approach to individual action is the old fashioned technique of conservation. Drive less, or not at all, trade in the SUV for a hybrid, and use alternate fuels (although as long as our government subsidizes oil consumption, that will unfortunately just make gas cheaper for the gas guzzlers, but I think it's the right thing to do in general.)
Dependence on foreign oil has only one solution, and that's lowering our overall consumption of oil; that in turn has only one real solution, which is an organized long-term government energy plan which subsidizes alternative fuels until they can reach economies of scale, and eliminates hidden subsidies for oil (there are many, starting with the tax system and working around to highway policy). It's not the sort of thing that the market place will accomplish on its own under the present stacked deck, and unregulated markets tend to have cataclysmic adjustments, anyway; the last thing we want is for alternative fuels to be forced by necessity when the economy is suddenly crushed by a permanent energy crisis.
It's the story of the ant and the cricket once again...