The War for America’s Natural Resources by William R. Nester (auth.)

By William R. Nester (auth.)

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In 1993, the tobacco lobby turned its screws in Congress, forcing it to approve a 75 percent domesticcontent requirement for all cigarettes sold in the United States. That same year, it helped kill the proposed higher taxes on cigarettes that would have brought them to $4 a pack in President Clinton's 1993 health-care bill. Because that bill threatened the special interests of so many industries, it was easy to defeat. In late 1994, the tobacco industry faced an initiative that proved more difficult to thwart.

8 billion in surplus commodities atop their regular subsidies. 25 billion in "mixed credit" schemes. To any poor country interested in buying American farm products, Washington offered loans at two percentage points below market rates. In doing so, the United States essentially dumped American farm crops on foreign markets. For example, American wheat which sold for $225 a ton in the United States was only $100 in Egypt. In October 1981, the Reagan White House signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to sell it between 9 and 12 million metric tons yearly.

It is also laborintensive. While appropriate for row crops, it does not work for grains. The most serious and intractable water problem involves the draining and poisoning of the nation's aquifers. Once an aquifer is destroyed, it will remain so for hundreds or thousands of years. Nowhere is aquifer destruction a potentially greater problem than across the Great Plains which supply most of the nation's grains. The Ogallala Aquifer is a vast water pool beneath the Great Plains which extends an average of nearly seven hundred miles from north to south, three hundred miles from east to west, and a quarter of a mile deep.

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