Tag Archives: gas

Gas Prices Rise; EVERYBODY PANIC!

Here we go again.

According to the news media, gas prices are at record highs — for February! — and this somehow is cause for panic because even though gas prices have been higherin August 2008! — it means that they’re gonna be higher in May 2012 … just because!

I mean, good grief. If the news media is pressing the panic button, it must be because they’re tired of talking about vaginas and birth control pills. The funniest thing is watching Newt Gingrich remind everyone what the price of gas was when he was Speaker of the House, which was back in the last century. He then tells us what the price of gas was on Obama’s inauguration day, completely skipping over the roller coaster Bush years, including the record highs of 2008. Yeah, I know Republicans wish the Bush years never happened, join the club! But sorry dude, you can’t.

Nothing angers me more than the malfeasance that is our news media’s coverage of the gas price issue. Most of the time they’ll just shove a microphone in the face of some poor schlub trying to make it into work in the morning and record people complaining about something we’ve always complained about, since forever. Good grief, I remember people complaining about $1 a gallon gasoline, and I’m not that old.

It’s as if the news media has decided to not even bother and explain the issue. It’s just too hard, the poor dears know we idiot Americans can’t possibly comprehend gas prices rising due to things like Iran, China, Greece and increased demand from a stronger economy. So much easier to spread panic, I guess. Why don’t folks like Charlie Rose and Brian Williams actually inform the public? Instead, I watched Charlie Rose this morning let Newt blather on about stuff that has no effect on gas prices whatsoever without doing his fucking job and actually conducting an interview. You know, back in my day an interview involved two people, one asking questions and one answering them. This morning, Rose just basically turned on Newt’s mic, then went to the bathroom with his newspaper and cup of coffee.

As I wrote back in December, America is actually exporting more refined oil product than it’s importing these days. For the first time since 1949. How this makes President Obama anti-domestic energy, I have no idea.

These are the facts but you sure don’t hear the TV newsbots mentioning that. Gas prices are high right now because of global geopolitical conditions that U.S. consumers have very little control over and a strengthening economy which has increased demand. There is nothing magical about this being the month of February, nor is there any guarantee that these conditions will exist in May or June. There is no voodoo surrounding the time of year when gas prices have risen. I remember one Memorial Day weekend when they actually went down.

Here’s a nice little chart showing gas prices in the U.S.:

Every time the roller coaster edges up, the news media pushes the panic button. Frankly, I’m sick of it. It’s lazy, irresponsible, and does not inform the public. Instead, it fosters ignorance and partisanship, because it allows Republican talking points to take hold.

Instead of inciting panic, the news media should be spreading accurate information about why gas prices behave the way they do. That way an informed public could come together and actually agree on some kind of national energy policy enabling the country to weather these inevitable ups and downs over which we have little control.

Here’s an idea from Time’s Bryan Walsh:

In fact, it’s not the price of gas the President should focus on — it’s the effect high gas prices can have on the economy. A more energy-efficient economy — from gas mileage on up — is naturally more resilient to high energy prices. That’s one area the President can help shape — and it’s an area President Obama has found quiet success. The White House has pushed through measures that will mandate significant increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules, which means in the future, American drivers will be better protected against the next big hike in gas prices. And that’s not something one hears often from the Republican presidential field.

We’ll never agree on that more energy-efficient economy, though, because all the new media does is spread the false information that increased drilling somehow leads to lower gas prices at home. It isn’t now, it hasn’t in the past, nor will it in the future.

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Filed under energy production, gas prices, Media

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay MORE?

Remember Newt Gingrich’s “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” campaign? Based on the false assumption that if we drill for oil in America, that oil will stay in America? And drive gas prices Americans pay down? Because, you know … supply and demand and all that simplistic Econ 101 crap from the 1920s that people believe still holds true in a global economy?

Yeah, well, it ain’t happening:

Oil boomlet sweeps U.S. as exports and production rise

Looking at your heating bills or gas prices, you may find it surprising that the United States is enjoying a mini oil boom. It’s producing more crude oil and, for the first time in decades, has become a net exporter of petroleum products such as jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline.

The U.S. exported more oil-based fuels than it imported in the first nine months of this year, making it likely that 2011 will be the first time since 1949 that the nation is a net exporter of such goods, primarily diesel.

That’s not all. The U.S. has reversed another decades-long trend. It began producing more crude oil in 2008 than the year before and accelerated that upswing 3% in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2010. That production has helped reduce U.S. imports of crude oil by about 10% since 2006.

Funny because I thought Socialist Obama was a puppet of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club! Oh, and the tree huggers and Dirty Fucking Hippies have blocked all the new refineries! And bargle bargle blargh! And Al Gore is fat!

Hmm. So we’re producing more crude oil domestically, reducing our imports, headed toward energy independence … yet we’re still paying over $3.50 a gallon for gasoline! What happened to the “pay less” part of Newt’s slogan?

What gives? Two things:

American consumers benefit little from the U.S. oil boomlet, because their fuel prices depend heavily on a global oil market that remains tight and has probably already peaked in production, says Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy and the World.

Ah yes that global market thing. Oil is not like oranges or laundry detergent. And then there’s the fact that this “boomlet” comes from new sources of oil (like tar sands and shale and ultra-deep offshore wells) that had been prohibitively expensive to tap before. The price of oil has to reach a certain high price before tapping these sources makes economic sense.

You see, high gas prices are built into the system. So no matter how much we drill and refine here in the U.S., we won’t be seeing cheap gasoline. And as for the rest of it — the poisoned well water and earthquakes from fracking, the crazy, wild weather from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide — we all pay those costs so the oil companies can enjoy higher profits. Privatize the gains, socialize the losses: it’s the way we do things these days.

Of course, those of us who drive electric cars don’t pay too much attention to gas prices.

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Filed under climate change, energy production, gas prices

Food Or Fuel?

Last week My Conservative Friend™ was railing on about how they use sugar cane for fuel in South America and by God why isn’t America running its cars on American corn? I had to explain to him that actually we are, we do, and we have: and some of us don’t think it’s a good thing to turn our food into fuel. Not when people are going hungry, not when food prices are going up, not when Wall Street speculation on corn prices causes price spikes, and most of all not when corn fuels are so energy-intensive to produce that they don’t really solve our energy problems or the climate change problem.

He was completely unaware of the whole ethanol thing, how we now mix ethanol with gasoline. I couldn’t remember how much, but I did remember that it was a couple years ago that Congress mandated higher ethanol content in gasoline, and I remembered some people raising a big stink about it because ethanol can tear up some engines, especially things like lawnmowers. And I remember gas pumps have a big sticker on them indicating the percent of ethanol content in all gasoline. So how someone like My Conservative Friend™ can fill up his big gas-guzzling SUV with gas every week but not be aware that it’s mixed with ethanol is a little mind-boggling to me.

Over at Grist I saw this article which says 40% of all U.S. corn produced goes into our gas tanks. That’s a lot of corn, and I have to say, even I didn’t realize it was that high.

One of the things that frustrates me about our world today is that people are being increasingly asked to engage in the public discourse, yet they are not given the information they need to do so with any level of accuracy. It’s like the Powers That Be want people to be uninformed, but they also want people to be engaged. I guess it’s easier to manipulate an uninformed populace, and giving people politics instead of news and opinion instead of information is the modern-day “bread and circuses” which makes us feel like we are involved in our democracy without actually having control over anything.

I mean, seriously. How can we have a discussion about national energy policy when people don’t even know that American gasoline is mixed with corn ethanol? How can our opinions be valid when we aren’t even informed about what our government is currently doing?

Anyway, Grist calls corn ethanol “the boondoggle that won’t die,” and it’s hard to disagree:

What’s frustrating isn’t that the government is investing in alternative liquid fuels. It’s that, national security be damned, we’re barking up the wrong energy tree: All the data point to ethanol being a climate dead end. And it’s a dead end that’s eating our food. Yet the government finds ways to keep the money flowing towards ethanol. It’s truly the boondoggle that just won’t die.

There is an education gap that makes debating public policy issues so difficult. All the Republicans have to do is come up with some amygdala-triggering slogan: “Nuke The Ragheads!”, “Drill Here, Drill Now!” and “America Fuck Yeah!” None of these things educate people about the world as it is, policies that are currently in place, or the issues that these policies raise. But they do provide an emotional release.

The Left operates on the assumption that people already know what policies are in place, what issues they present, and let’s talk about what we need to do. And we get nowhere.

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Filed under energy future, energy production, Energy Solutions, environment, gas prices

Irony, Cognitive Dissonance, or Both?

Mostly this post was an opportunity for me to figure out how to post a photo. I think what frustrates me about WordPress is that everything which took one step to do on Blogger seems to take three steps to do on WordPress. Like, why do I have categories AND tags? Who needs both? How do I get rid of them?

Using WordPress reminds me of that great line from “Amadeus”: “Too many notes!”

Think How Much You'd Save
If You Rode The Bus

But anyway, I did snap this pic of a Nashville MTA bus advert yesterday afternoon because it amused me. How odd that an auto insurance company would advertise how much its customers saved by putting its message on the side of a bus! I mean yes, obviously the target is other drivers on the road, but I wonder if anyone bothered to think to themselves: “Wow, if I was taking the bus instead of driving a car I wouldn’t have to pay anything for car insurance!”

Probably not. Probably I’m the only person in Nashville who thinks that way.

In other news, Forbes Magazine ranked Nashville the nation’s fourth-most gas guzzling city. This makes sense, since Nashvillians don’t take public transportation, we drive everywhere, and half our neighborhoods don’t even have sidewalks even if you wanted to walk. Which trust me, the weather here sucks 60% of the time so you don’t want to walk. And every parking lot is filled with SUVs. I’m seeing a few more Priuses and even a couple of Smart Cars but generally Nashville is the land of the SUV.

Speaking of cars, I just found out the delivery on my Leaf was delayed until August. Which has me very, very sad because that means three more months of high gas prices before I can be fossil-fuel free.

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Filed under Nashville