An advanced society requires energy – in the form of fuel or electricity – to power the devices necessary to sustain it. Politicians and capitalists would not ignore such an opportunity to exert tremendous influence over society, and their efforts to control the market in energy harm the environment and the economy for the rest of us.
Benjamin Tucker used the term “monopoly” to describe areas where government intervention allowed some people to monopolize critical economic functions. As Charles Johnson writes  Benjamin Tucker described “four great areas where government intervention artificially created or encouraged ‘class monopolies’ – concentrating wealth and access to factors of production into the hands of a politically-select class insulated from competition, and prohibiting workers from organizing mutualistic alternatives.” He identified these as the Land Monopoly, the Money Monopoly, the Patent Monopoly, and the Tariff Monopoly.
Considering the common use of patents to monopolize sectors of economic activity, the patent monopoly ought to be examined here. As Kevin Carson explains in Studies in Mutualist Political Economy:
The company that owned the patents for nickel metal hydride battery technology, which could have been useful in developing better electric cars, was purchased by oil company Texaco in 2001. Texaco was later purchased by oil company Chevron, who owned the battery patents until 2009. 
Whether or not this represents some petroleum executives’ plot to kill the electric car , it is certainly a case of using government privileges to monopolize the production of energy. Nobody but Chevron was allowed to experiment with the technical information that Chevron owned during the time its subsidiary held the patents. Chevron used a government privilege to insulate itself from competitive innovation.
There is certainly a demand for alternative energy vehicles. After noting the difficulties that car companies placed in front of eager buyers, and the less-than-enthusiastic advertising for electric cars, reporter Matt Coker concludes:
The excitement surrounding Tesla Motors’ electric vehicles  would seem to bear this out. So there existed a significant demand for electric vehicles that is still not being met, which should point to some kind of interference in the market.
As Sheldon Richman notes , petroleum “has long been a top concern of the national policy elite, most particularly the foreign-policy establishment.” Influence over the substance that powers armies, industrial production, and the transportation of the workforce is an immense source of power. Because the goals of politicians involve exercising power over events around the world, it is not surprising that they would want to have a hand in energy production.
It is widely acknowledged that oil was a major consideration in Axis offensives during the Second World War. More recently, war profiteering by Haliburton and fighting in the Niger Delta have involved oil in a major way. World conflicts could bring to mind Mad Max II, but with better equipped gangs.
If more electricity was produced using neighborhood generators or individually-owned solar arrays, it would significantly decentralize the production of energy, leaving less for politicians to preside over and compensate campaign contributors with.
What does the state offer oil companies? Only the state that can claim massive amounts of land by force, and cut deals with companies that rotate employees between corporate and government ranks. Without the power of the globe-spanning offensive US military, it is unlikely that oil fields in Iraq could be secured. Without the state, it is also less likely for a risky prospect like offshore drilling to be accepted by the neighbors of the proposed well – those whose source of production it could threaten. And if they did accept it, they would have greater incentives to focus on safety than the government regulators and BP, neither of whom hold much accountability.
Because government, not local people own the environment, environmental regulations will be based on who has the most political pull, not on who is most immediately affected. And those with the most political pull are those with the power and wealth to give politicians what they need. 
The concept of “regulatory capture” is important. As Sheldon Richman writes in The Freeman:
Lobbyists are another way that energy companies are linked to the state. When industry representatives are consulted to write government policy, they obviously have their companies’ interests in mind.
Liability caps socialize the risk that drilling companies would be held responsible for in the absence of government interference, raising incentives to engage in irresponsible activity.
No wonder BP took shortcuts and ignored hazards. 
BP, the company responsible for spewing millions of gallons of oil into the ocean over the past month, has a noticeably statist history. Looking at the well-cited historical segment of the Wikipedia article on BP, one finds a history of colonialists fighting nationalists for control of resources through covert operations, assassination, and the installation of puppet dictators . For many decades the British government held a majority share in BP until the Thatcher administration sold the government’s shares .
Government reduces diseconomies of scale and socializes costs. This increases the difficulty for small production of new technologies to compete with large production.
As Benjamin Darrington notes in Government Created Economies of Scale and Capital Specificity:
When government issues grants for alternative energy technology, money will likely go to big, established firms. Sometimes the same companies that collect subsidies for fossil fuels will be the ones who are able to control new technologies through government privilege.
An industry relying so much on government privilege, with links to government policy is really just another arm of political authority.
State control locks competition out of the economy, and those who want to share the controls are very willing to play along. Undermining them requires innovation and a desire to decentralize or abolish power entirely. A free economy containing strong, empowered demands for freedom and healthy environment will produce things that satisfy these demands.
A Crisis of Competence in the Gulf
Lindsey Williams On The BP Oil Catastrophe
Cape Wind and the Clean Energy Economy
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