This Week's Debate: Foreign Oil Dependence

In my neighborhood, the highest gas prices can be found at the Exxon on the corner, where a gallon of regular was $3.09 when I left for work Friday morning, $3.15 when I came home, and $3.19 by Saturday evening.

And so we dedicate this third installment in our debate on energy to all the gas stations where regular unleaded has topped $3 per gallon.

We've already discussed various reasons for the rising fuel prices, but one of the key causes clearly deserves a whole week of its own: the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

A recent poll finds that Americans have a low opinion of the government's performance in weaning the country off foreign oil -- and the fact that U.S. gasoline prices are approaching their all-time high can't be helping. Since the first day of the gas prices debate three weeks ago, the average per gallon cost has risen by about 25 cents.

This week, we'll explore the role of OPEC in setting world crude prices, where the oil we use actually comes from -- and who reaps the rewards when prices rise. Anything else you'd like to discuss?

By Emily Messner |  April 24, 2006; 10:39 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
Previous: Take It From the Soviets: Safety First | Next: The Facts: Oil Company Profits

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In spite of being the 2nd (or 3rd?) largest producer of oil in the world, the United States has an insatiable demand for fuel consumption.

The only thing that will curb this demand are higher prices at the pump. So Americans can complain about the price of oil all they want; that complaint is really the only effective motivating factor towards oil independence.

Posted by: Will | April 24, 2006 11:26 AM

Oil and tomatoes seem to be expensive. Come August, will trade tomatoes for gasoline.

Posted by: Turnabout | April 24, 2006 01:06 PM

giving it to retiring CEO's to the tune of $380 MILLION DOLLARS....


there needs to be effective action to conserve the United States as a sovereign nation, not as an extension of what elitist leaders need for their retirement package...

the United States belongs to the people.


control the looting of American by engineering a response rather than letting market forces control our response...


all the blather about rising prices and whatever the reason, rising oil prices are good for finding other reasons to use oil for energy...


but there needs to be some way to syphon off the _excess_ profits and put it in a fund to pay for infrastructure and alternative energy research and development, and funding for existent methods to emerge...


as I said before, when I worked in electronics at one point a cell phone "handset" cost $10,000....it was prohibitive to own one unless you had a real need or were wealthy....

things change, what may seem to be prohibitively expensive now, suddenly becomes obvious when the need, infrastructure and other factors change.

chips, miniturization made computers move from filling entire buildings to be hand held...

I believe the early enicac computer which was extremely large was the computing equivalent of a TI-35, to you youngsters, what you'd pay about 10 dollars for nowdays...in equivalent computing power...a normal highschool level calculator...


work on the solutions, the methods will appear.....

"no" is not an operative word here, there must be alternative methods, and resources that are extinguishable, should not be traded for resources that unextinguishable, like arable land, or peoples rights...

destroy hypocrisy, arrest the president and his men before another _false war_ or occupation starts.......


howdy doody needs his strings cut.

.

Posted by: the thing to do is manage the "oil crisis" by legislation and banking some of the overage rather tha | April 24, 2006 01:10 PM

I blame the government and the elites. We need more more hybrid SUVs. Period.

Posted by: Gus Price | April 24, 2006 01:38 PM

How about the role of energy traders/speculators/manipulators from NY to London? From all press reports there are NO oil shortage on the world market so why the steep rise in price all of a sudden? Who are the new Enrons today?

The deeper question for all the economists/free market capitalists out there is whether market forces of all kinds are being bent by speculators backed by the trillion dollar hedge fund industry out there?

Posted by: Borge | April 24, 2006 01:56 PM

who else is going to get a 380 MILLION DOLLAR bonus from playing ball with CHeyney?

Posted by: the better question... | April 24, 2006 02:17 PM

Because I am a petroluem Chemist I think I have a little knowlege on the subject. I have worked in thi field since the end of Nam, I watched the oil embargo come and go, and knew that sooner or later this would get around to happen. There are several reasons for this major rise in oil prices and I'll try to list most all of them and explain what I am able to.

First there is somewhat of a shortage of oil on the world market, but it isn't as bad as the governments, the petroleum producers & refiners, and the market analysists are making it out as. The oil that is being pumped out of the ground is keeping up with demand with some excess. The governments that have control of the oil production in the countries such as APEC, certain countries in Africa and S.America decide on their output. This is where the laws of supply vs. demand take effect. When they cut back production of their wells this creates a false shortage there by forcing prices to rise. The real problem is in the refining capability. Just like after Katrina some refineries went off line just as some wells did because of damage, but contrary to what was stated in the press, if I remember correctly there was only about 3 refineries that went down. The major oil companies failed to tell the American public that no independent refineries went down, that gave them the chance to spike prices to reap excess profits, the independents didn't say anything as they enjoyed the excess right along with Exxon, Shell etc.

Part of the current spike also has to do with a government mandate to remove an additive from gasoline and replace it with Ethanol. No gasoline could be shipped via pipeline until every inch of pipe was cleaned. All gasoline had to be shipped by either tanker, barge, or rail car, thereby causing an artificial shortage causing a rise in pump prices.

Of course we all know about the multi million severance package that was given the retiring Chairman of Exxon, but this is the norm for all major corporations. Check the salaries, bonuses, and stock options of any major company. It makes no difference if they laid off hundreds of workers, their remaining employee's haven't had a raise in pay for years, shipped most of their jobs overseas, or whatever, just so long as they made a decent profit for shareholders, they feel they deserve that compensation, and they get it. They also know that they don't need to worry because they have all ready paid off the politicians with campaign contributions, so they are assured that the government won't do anything to really punish them for fear of not receiving that campaign check.

The final reason is the traders and speculaters, they all know the bull that the governments and oil companies have been feeding the public about shortages, so whenever there is some little blip like talk of bombing Iran that gives them the signal to bid the price up even higher.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 24, 2006 02:47 PM

1. We immigrated our way out of energy independence. Open Borders will add another 63 million by 2030, making drop in the bucket "alternative energy solutions to achieve energy independence" an absolute joke to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about US and global energy needs.

2. Its not "All About America". Rising China accounts for 40% of the increase in global oil demand in the last 10 years. America can influence price a little by reducing our demand, but any conservation moves limited to America will eventually be supplanted by other emerging demand for petroleum elsewhere.

3. The oil companies do not control price. What they have becomes more profitable as the global spot oil market sets price, and their profit falls as spot oil falls. People tend to forget "Big Evil Oil Companies" were bleeding out billions and had plummeting stock prices in the mid 90's oil glut. OPEC has the biggest impact on price and thank God Saudi Arabia is the leader and our true friend (in this area, at least) in preventing catastrophic swings in price. Next come the speculators...big banks, hedge funds operating from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv to London to NYC.

Theoretically, the governments of the advanced nations have the power to check the rampant, money-hungry speculators now bleeding the world with their machinations on fear and risk that is making them billions a day from their self-proclaimed mission of "managing uncertainty" in oil futures. But governments are reluctant to intervene in the "wisdom of the market" until the Millikens, Soros, Boeskys, Grubmans, Fast Andy Fastows are waved under their noses and set off the next foundation-shaking financial scandal. But it is clear that the speculators are profiting so much from fears of terrorism and unstable governments that if Al Qaeda or the Iranian Mullahs were almost defeated, it would make financial sense on behalf of the financial speculators to fund them. Same with investment aimed at destabilizing oil producing countries. (Some conspiracy theorists say that is exactly what is happening now).

Advanced nations could also control demand by taxes and by having adequate refinery capacity. America is singularly irresponsible on both counts.

The stupidity of America in not building new refineries on environmentalist opposition, NIMBY-ism - while insisting each state needs a "boutique blend" is worth a separate post because that is killing us as well as price varies as much as 60 cents between states now - and that is due to shortages of ethanol for states that dumbly insisted on it (CA,CT, NY, ME), shortages in refineries ability to craft spring boutique blends insisted on, and lack of refineries (New England boasts it has none..so caring of the evironment they are up there...)

More scrutiny of who the speculators are is in order. Some of the players are "reputable banks and brokerages" like Barclays and Morgan Stanley...not the reclusive evil billionaires living in Swiss castles...but many of the worlds wealthiest are indeed behind the Hedge Funds and "reputable banks" now making a killing on the little folks, as the investors - that are reaping most of the lucre.

The speculators are not the key drivers. Supply and demand - pure, unsinister market forces, drives the most part of price increase...and that is because America immigrated in too many people and upped it's collective demand..and 2 billion people elsewhere are modernizing and entering the global economy. To me, it is hard to blame a country that has a natural resource to not want to get a good price for it - be it Americans selling phosphate ore or Libya selling natural gas. But the world petroleum market always had the Saudis ready to step in and pump more if prices went too high - the surplus capacity..Now that is gone and speculators have found they can cause fear and price setting in a tight oil market..and are doing so, adding 15-20 bucks a gallon.

Want cheaper oil?

1. Build refineries.
2. End states setting what type of gas must be sold locally.
3. Allow drilling in Alaska and off the coasts.
4. Gut the litigation power of environmental groups, by Congressial legislation aimed at ending ability of special interest groups to block national energy policy. Pass a law at the same time that declares anyone who recycles and builds a windmill is a certified morally superior American to keep them partially happy...
5. Go after the greedy speculators. Many are actually going "long" by buying up long-term reserve production solely for a bank or Hedge Fund to sell when they want. The US Gov't has the power to ruin a few of those money-grubbers and set an example if it wants to. There is collusion between the speculators and certain 3rd World gov'ts with oil.
6. Think as China is doing - that the spot market may go away and oil goes only to the nation that buys control of physical reserves.
7. End mass immigration into the USA. Wait on importing 10s of millions of new energy consumers until we get a grip on our energy imports and our energy independence.
8. Set new CAFE standards. Set up fleets to run on natural gas. Shift power production away from oil and natural gas to coal and nuclear as a 10-15 year strategy.
9. Hope the next President is competent and has the vision of a Newt, with the ethics of a Romney or a Bayh.
10. Become realistic as a nation that doing nothing but dreaming of exotics like hydrogen, tidal, fusion, solar power is essentially doing nothing to fix our present mess...and that energy is linked to immigration, foreign policy failures beyond the ill-named "GWOT" we have fixated on to the detriment of other critical regions of the world.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 24, 2006 03:10 PM

as a world power...


illegal immigration is a part of that.

using all methode of alternative energy source

is the correct response.

having an emotional response to an engineering situation....is childish.


we need to turn away from oil consumption for many reasons.


we also need to fix our infrastructure and start city planning that actually supports thoughtful use of energy...

everything from transport of goods to transport of people, garbage, recycling, land use, organics, general healthcare as a priority (with no exceptional means, except from insurance or private funds), and


long range planning.


you want to control the world, create emergencies

and make people respond to them...


you want to sustain a world, work with what is in front of you,


priority right now, is getting the people in power exposed...

and reestablishing democracy as a working premise, not as a _word ploy_ like _patriotism_ was

Posted by: there are multiple reasons for our demise | April 24, 2006 03:21 PM

We're funny people. Americans have smaller families today than 40 years ago, yet the SUV is the vehicle of choice. When the 1st oil embargo and oil price surge came about, it was clear then that things would soon come to a head. Yes U. S. auto manufacturers claimed that Americans would never accept smaller cars and did all they could to maintain production of larger and larger cars. Now we want a "hybrid SUV"?

That aside, it's not likely that we will ever gain true OPEC independence. Change to alternatives will still take time and during those years, our ability to produce oil will continue to decline. Eventually, we and all other nations will rely on a considerably different mix of energy sources. We can accelerate research and development, and we ought to do so as the issues of global warming need immediate attention.

Pricing will reduce some discretionary driving and fuel use, but necessary transportation, heating, and industrial and agricultural uses will probably continue the same or grow. As the production costs are not changing radically, the increases will primarily result in windfall profit by the petrolium industry and eventually a world-wide recession as after the previous significant hike in the cost of energy. Progress on social supports will wane.

A real effort for development of the necessary alternative energy sources has not been undertaken by the U. S. government. For one thing, there has been no political will since Pres. Jas. Carter. Presidents Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, and G. W. Bush have opposed such investment most likely because the established energy industry has a quasi-monopoly and doesn't desire any government-sponsored competition. The Clinton administration has a watery impulse to proceed in that direction and was hampered by a very hostile Congress in such attempts as were put forward.

As it stands now, research into alternative energy and transportation power systems are conducted largely by the petroleum and automotive industries. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo until they have milked all they can from existing technologies. They they expect to be prepared to roll out and control the new technologies when the profit margins decline on the old. That's the unfettered capitalist system at work.

If we want something different, we have to elect government that works for change. Some don't think that's possible. If it's not, well then why bother to discuss possibilities? The Constitution still stands. Since it does, we have the power to move for change. And no, that doesn't mean voting by party. It means paying attention to the candidates on the basis of their intention. Only a powerful central government can bring giant corporations to heel. That's what the founders intended. That is what we've forgotten.

Posted by: Jazzman | April 24, 2006 03:51 PM

Jazzman - magic "alternative energy souces" blah, blah.

Cold hard numbers:

US used 107 Quads. It will need 127-128 Quads in our immigration swelled America of 363 million people in 2030.

Solat power gives us 0.063 Quad. Tidal none. Geothermal essentially none. Hydrogen none. Windmills 0.15 Quad. Fusion none. Ethanol 1 Quad. Triple recycling and conservation savings - save 3 Quads.

Does nothing to even compensate for the immigration addition to our energy needs, let alone supplant the 100 Quads of traditional energy sources we need right at this moment.

Oil, gas, nuclear, coal.

Take your pick, shuffle the percentages. That's what you practically must work off of.

"Exciting new alternate energy sources" 1st touted at pot parties 35 years ago are still hemp-fueled dreams.

Reality is otherwise.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 24, 2006 04:28 PM

If all Americans stopped buying their gasoline from Citgo/Exxon, they'd be forced to decrease the price. The demand makes it easy for the companies to raise their prices. The demand will always be there for us, but we don't have to purchase our gasoline from the major companies. Think about that next time you pull into the gas station. You might look down the road and see a BP.

Posted by: PC Gorilla | April 24, 2006 04:41 PM

Chris Ford-
"Exciting new alternate energy sources" 1st touted at pot parties 35 years ago are still hemp-fueled dreams."

Actually, hemp is a fuel:

http://www.hemp4fuel.com/nontesters/hemp4fuel/link.html

Posted by: wiccan | April 24, 2006 04:54 PM

"The insistence on fuel efficiency was highly unusual. At the time, the price of oil averaged below $15 per barrel, Americans were snapping up ever-bigger SUVs, and saving gasoline seemed like a politically correct anachronism.

But Toyota's chairman convinced his top executives that environmental issues were a long-term threat, said Takehisa Yaegashi, a chief of the Prius project in the mid- and late 1990s who later became chief of all Toyota alternative power-train projects.

"In those years, discussions were going on about the hybrid program, but we thought it was quite clear that global warming was a challenge we would have to take up," said Yaegashi, who now is a semi-retired consultant for the firm.

In September 1994, the G21 team first heard hints from top executives that it should consider hybrid technology, which had been tainted by its association with an earlier, failed project to build an electric car. That December, management came with a thunderbolt -- instead of a 50 percent improvement in fuel efficiency, the new car would need a 100 percent improvement.

The team protested that this would be impossible with a normal internal combustion gasoline engine. Fine, the response came. So you'll have to make it a hybrid."

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/04/24/MNG3JIE6DK1.DTL&type=cars

Posted by: | April 24, 2006 05:18 PM

Ford,

Who are calling immigrant, pilgrim? Besides, there's a growing trend of leaving the country for Mexico, Buenos Aires, Eastern Europe, etc. There's no space here to argue in depth but
there are much better and cheaper places to be. America, I admit, maybe a better place to get a job, but a lousy one to LIVE. Unless you're a narrow-minded WASP with bigotry issues, of course. An increasing number of americans slowly but surely beginning to realize that.

Your "numbers" are pseudo-informed nonsense as well. What in incarnation compels Ameriacans en masse to drive SUVs in major metropolitan areas other than some sort of cultural affliction? And all those huge ugly houses? What a waste of energy and space. Not unlike your postings, Ford. I hope it doesn't offend you.

Posted by: Emilio | April 24, 2006 05:25 PM

This is the 21st century, and the technology obviously exists for cars to run MUCH more efficiently than they do now. $3 or $4 a gallon of gas would be tolerable if miles per gallon were doubled or tripled for cars. Supposedly, there's prototype engines out there that can increase mpg A LOT more than just double or triple.
The problem is is that the technology has either been suppressed or else there just has never been any real effort to such because America is not a progressive country. If thing's are going bad right now as far as gas prices, it's because nobody had the foresight to prevent such.
Imagine a government that was pro-active and progressive instead of our current one that drags the status quo on for as long as it can to keep everything as is and the powers-that-be remaining at the top of our top-down society. The fossils that are the Republican and Democratic parties (or is it party?) have done nothing to ween us off of fossil fuel because that might mean actual change and progress. The cost of gas at the pump these days is the price of complacency among the American public, both the minority that votes and the majority that doesn't.

Posted by: ErrinF | April 24, 2006 06:10 PM

Wiccan - Funny! Yes, I agree Hemp is a versatile plant. How would the proposals go, you think, to plant half our arable land in hemp and import food to cut our gas needs by 1/3rd, rather than lose half our arable land to ethanol??

It would aise hell with the Right Wingers!

Maybe we would be poorer and hungrier, if we did it - but wouldn't be as depressed if we were able to get stoned rather than be a drunk weeping into his ethanol...

*********************

PCGorilla - Sadly, nothing the American consumer does to "punish" a particular oil company makes any difference to demand for a global commodity. Boycott Citgo? Fine, Venezuela just sents all their oil away from their traditional American main market to feed the Rise of China. Punish Exxon? OK, they will move sales of their American-made oil from the the Gulf States and Alaska to Europe, Japan, and India...then you can get BP to build more gas stations here...Oil is best thought of now as a global pool that everyone sucks from at the same rate. You can't compartmentalize it into a "brand" supplied only by one company. Without a drop in demand, guaranteed not to happen with unchecked immigration, your boycott of a particular company or two will have no effect on price. Just shift suppliers back and forth to different markets.

*******************

Emilio, go ahead and be a good little Aztlan-Boy for all I care. If America is such a lousy place to live, I hope you ilk will see fit not to pollute our nation with your existence, but move to a place you proclaim is better...Hope that didn't offend you...

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 24, 2006 06:29 PM

"If all Americans stopped buying their gasoline from Citgo/Exxon, they'd be forced to decrease the price. The demand makes it easy for the companies to raise their prices." - PC Gorilla

Nice dream! But if we don't buy from X, we'll buy from Y, and your second sentence applies to what Y will charge. And where will Y get more gas to meet the increased demand? By buying the gas we're not buying from X, at the price they would have sold it to us at or higher! It's called oligopoly.

Here's a far-out thought: hasn't oil become a public utility, like electricity and gas? Where is it carved in stone (except on the labels of campaign coffers) that the oil industry must remain totally laissez-faire and privately controlled?

Posted by: JUDGITO | April 24, 2006 06:32 PM

carbohydrate rate,

to compare grains grown for food value to grains grown for carbohydrate/ethanol production is to

speak with forked tongue....


to talk with chris about a trout

two inches long one must speak as if the trout were four feet long....


to say that exaggeration were a part of his personality....both over and under would be to


pin the tail on the donkey.

.

Posted by: food isn't grown for highest... | April 24, 2006 07:01 PM

when your neigbors are aryans...

best to get them busted.

Posted by: America is always a lousy place to live.. | April 24, 2006 07:02 PM

Oil is best thought of now as a global pool that everyone sucks from at the same rate. You can't compartmentalize it into a "brand" supplied only by one company. Without a drop in demand, guaranteed not to happen with unchecked immigration, your boycott of a particular company or two will have no effect on price. Just shift suppliers back and forth to different markets.

Posted by: Chris Ford | Apr 24, 2006 6:29:18 PM | Permalink

What've you been smoking Mr. Ford? First you say oil is "a global pool that everyone sucks from at the same rate". Then you say it's all the immigrants' fault. If the immigrants are not consuming oil here, they would be consuming it there yes?

Unless of course you are implying that Americans "suck" oil at a much faster rate than everyone else? Typical conservative political correctness, blame America first?

Posted by: Chrisoloid Fordoloid | April 24, 2006 08:36 PM

Reality is otherwise.
Posted by: Chris Ford | Apr 24, 2006 4:28:50 PM

Chris Ford's reality is otherwise, that's all.
Progressive energy alternatives have been repressed for years. That doesn't mean they don't work. Only a moron like Chris Ford would be so unresourceful when we are discussing resources. That loser thinks America peaked during the Red Scare of the 1950's, so he's nobody to listen to when it comes to trying to find alternative energy in the 2000's.
To top it all off, it sounds like this right-wing clown's newest obsession is going to be 'Aztlanoids'. GMAFB!

Posted by: ErrinF | April 24, 2006 08:53 PM

Why not boycott exxon-mobil? Just act as a free market balancing force. Serve your enlightened self-interest, just as the corporate greed factories do.

Posted by: Bob in Detroit | April 24, 2006 09:52 PM

ErrinF appears to be locked in a 1970s Lefty marijuana haze where the technologically ignorant rapped to one another until they came up with a Earth Day groupthink that spread their cluelessness more widely, then perpetuated their ignorance via low attainment teaching jobs they gravitated to. Another cast-off hippie relic.

Fact 1 - Alternate energies are not "repressed" by an American conspiracy. If they were, 50 other advanced nations, many who import 100% of their energy needs and most who are are in no way beholden to any USA would have come up with wondrous, "far-out, totally cool" oh so sexy, alternate energies the ill-educated have touted for the last 35 years. But they haven't....because they are not economical or can't be ramped up to be in any way significant contributore of a nation's essential energy needs.

Fact #2 - A favorite fantasy of dopers back in the 1973 Oil embargo, one taught by just about every engineering school, is the myth of the "magic engine" that the Big Three in Detroit evidently developed back in the 1960s and have kept locked up ever since...that would get get double, triple the milage of any car...up to 200 MPG, some claim. This fallacy of the technically illiterate is usually explained by the profs in terms of thermodynamics, maximum energy in a gallon of gas, various frictions including air drag coefficients and lube film frictions, entropy values for IC engines or even turbines, practical car dimensions and weight even with the most exotic materials....

Then letting the students crunch numbers and see there is no "hippie magic engine" possible in the realm of math and engineering that would get 200MPG in a car.

ErrinF - "Supposedly, there's prototype engines out there that can increase mpg A LOT more than just double or triple.
The problem is is that the technology has either been suppressed."

Take another toke, you old burnout!

Fact #3 - Revolves around the 70s Deadheads mindset that America was the Center of the Universe and all global problems were America's fault and problems only a "progressive America" could solve.
It's funny that after 35 years this stupidity continues, or just a commentary that marginal HS or college students of the late 60s and early 70s never let go of the deludions of their youth.

ErrinF - "The problem is is that the technology has either been suppressed or else there just has never been any real effort to such because America is not a progressive country."

If you aren't an engineer or a scientist, the easiest way to see the "Mother Gaia, eating organic means Peace and Total Harmony Under the Beautiful Rays of the Holy Sun" crowd are idiots is to remember that the US did not dominate all technological innovation back in the Hippie Era and sure doesn't now. Swedes, Swiss, Germans, and Japanese dominate energy research with respect to new engines, and along with the USA, Korea, Russia, and France - are also leaders in alternative energy. Except for the USA and Russia, all import 100% of their oil. Now, any open mind can ask what explaination the Mother Earth granola eaters have for why those technological leaders haven't done more with "magic alternative energy sources". Denmark, Israel, Australia, the Dutch, Taiwan, and China are no slouches either, leading in certain energy fields. Nor does ErrinF understand how each nation keeps abreast of other nations efforts and if Russia was about to produce a car that ran perpetually on energy from dark matter emenating from quantum wormholes, we'd know too.

Isn't Sweden a "progressive country", ErrinF?? What about the other Euroweenies?

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 24, 2006 11:08 PM

Thanks to those of you trying to set the "facts" straight. Once again, I'll point out that there is only one "truth" ultimately. If we don't sort it out now, history will do so later on. It is to our benefit, as citizens of the U. S. and as citizens of a finite and fragile world to try to get it right. While I respect that Mr. Ford may be earnest in his protestations, a good deal of the points are either damaged by prior biases or misinterpreted.

If it were simply a matter of "here's what there is to choose from" we'd probably still be using horses, oxen, and human energy for most of our toil (which at least had some semblance of renewability to it, come to think of it). We have to assume that as the need for alternatives grows more intense (I'll refer you again to Heinlein's "The Gods Themselves") there will be effective moves to discover and improve other energy extraction/conversion technologies. The speed at which this transition occurs really rests in our hands. We can call for and support with tax dollars independent research or we can wait for the energy industry to give us the new options.

So keep those calls and letters coming. The tide is shifting, the ship is turning.

Posted by: Jazzman | April 24, 2006 11:25 PM

while simultaneously saying that there needs to be a systemic approach to solutionizing...


and that will come to naught if you don't have people in power that are simply interested in


getting theirs.


I suggest that getting the bureaucrats at the various agencies on board that lawmakers


can't be law breakers would be a good thing....


I worked in Washington DC, I know that some of the perks include "looking the other way,"


unless you're a grunt.

IF you have a secret, TS, or higher level clearance....

and you're a grunt, a DUI will lose your job for you.

I suggest that you apply the same principles here....

and that includes Teddy Kennedy...."undocumented workers" is what he is trying to publically label, reframe

illegal aliens to,


I'm not against immigration....I'm against the mindset that illegal is okay,

if it helps a certain class, but if you do it, hey, your job ends....

like mr bush prosecuting that horrible leaker that endangered a CIA agents life and the lives of others, more than once, as a way of getting even.......oh that was mr chimpanzee boy

Posted by: I agree with what you're saying Jazzman, | April 24, 2006 11:58 PM

It was timely that PBS aired a show about the Alaskan pipeline tonight. It brought back some bitter memories about this same topic. (Except I was mostly bitter at my friend, whose family had a connection with the Teamsters, and who was going to help me get a job up there. He bailed because he wanted to stay here with his high school sweethart. Turned into a real pipe dream.)

Chris is right about increasing consumption in the US. I still have two old cars from the 60's. Those old V8s are huge gas guzzlers, but they are fun to drive on weekends. However, they are very heavy things. That is why motors were so huge in those days. In comparison, most of the efficiencies gained over the past thirty years are simply from weight reduction. But when three times as many people are driving ...

Errinf, no one is hiding or keeping secret technological breakthroughs. You remind me of a guy I worked with years ago who did not believe men had ever traveled into space, or even the moon. As an engineering student at the time, it was hilarious to hear his theories of how the government pulled it off.

For big cities, scooters are the immediate answer to greater oil independence. I still consume only about 5-6 dollars a week in gas to get to and from work. It gives me an unbelievable feeling of increased "independence" from oil, whether it is domestic or foreign. In fact, I could "hoard" 50 gallons and have enough to keep me mobile for almost 6 months. If they only made a Vespa-type heater for the house. But of course, the man is keeping that a secret.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 12:10 AM

well,

let me tell you son, I was alive then, and capable of thinking


let me ask you this:

if we have in one automaker, GMC, the GNP of all of Europe including the Soviet Union...

that wasn't including, Ford, or Chrysler


toyotas were considered toys, the honda civic was about the same size as the minicooper only it looked like something designed by _really_ bad engineers


we had also just invented the solid state circuit, laser technology,

do we have any clout?


could we have changed the world?


damn right peanut boy....


still can as long as aholes actually get on board with the truth rather than pushing private agendas of exaggeration.

yah know?


treason takes many forms.


I would imagine dissemination of false information would be part of that.


change American to international, in this->

"Alternate energies are not "repressed" by an American conspiracy."


statement and I'd call you a liar...or even _American dominated_


and it isn't the country, it's the people running it, for themselves and their class....most of them inherited...

or like McCain trying to suck up to them,


to "get some"

.

Posted by: problems that only America could solve... | April 25, 2006 12:10 AM

My point is that you can buy efficient vehicles now. You could also have bought them 30 years ago. The original honda civic was tiny and got great milage in its day. However, most people did not want to buy cars that small, and still do not today. Tough cookies for them as they complain about skyrocketing oil prices.

While growing up, our family was big and had only one car at a time. It was shared between the parents and six kids. Rarely was there more than a quarter tank of gas in it. It is basically the same with me now if you don't take into consideration the old Smithsonian-like vehicles I own mostly for fun.

Suburbia is where most fuel is wasted.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 12:37 AM

An excellent reference piece for this discussion from an authoritative source appeared in yesterday's WP. Robert Kaplan tells us about the growing mineral wealth and political unshakability of thugs in many medium-sized states:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/21/AR2006042101772.html

Posted by: On the plantation | April 25, 2006 06:26 AM

To Chris Ford and all those others who would gut our environment to drill for oil, that is not the solution. Among other things, it would be at least a decade before we saw any of the oil that MIGHT be found in these exploration and drilling efforts. Won't help us much now, and very likely never will help much. Permanent destruction for temporary satisfaction is a bad bargain.
Standardizing refinery and formulation requirements is a good idea--provided the most stringent ones are the ones used. The New Emgland States and California have adopted these standards because they have to--the air quality there has deteriorated that much. The biggest offender hurting the air is vehicle exhaust.
What is needed instead is more efficient use of what we have. At long last, new CAFE standards are out, but they aren't that much greater than we already have. We can do significantly better. We've got to stop using the big SUV to run errands, and stop the huge commutes to work. IT is HIGH TIME to start thinking about the future of our children and our country, and stop acting like spoiled rich brats who whine and cry whenever we can't get what we want.

Jimmy Carter warned us that time would run out on oil, and we stuck our heads in the sand--and ran him out of office for telling us some unpleasant truths about ourselves. We need to wake up and change our ways NOW before things really go downhill. Specifically, we need to:
1)Impose significantly more stringent fuel standards--not just on automobiles, but on trucks and other machines using fossil fuels.
2)Encourage cooperation, especially in areas with large population, in mass transit efforts. and YES, this means spending tax dollars in this area. All would benefit. (We need money for this? Yes we do. So tax gasoline--and repeal the Bush tax cuts, which have already brought us the biggest budget deficits in the history of the free world.) Already, as gas gets more expensive, people are moving in this direction. Imagine what we could do if the systems were upgraded and improved.
3)Most importantly, we have to change our attitudes. Instead of it all being about ME, it needs to be about OUR CHILDREN, OUR COUNTRY, AND THE FUTURE. I realize that few of the politicians in either party are thinking this way, so it will be up to us as the citizens the change their viewpoint--or change the people holding these positions. But we will have to start by changing our actions--ourselves.

Posted by: Michael Canny | April 25, 2006 08:54 AM

This is America and if we can make money on pet rocks we can make being environmentally friendly profitable. The rest of the world is waiting (hopefully not holding their collective breath) for us to take the lead - well, at least from a perspective of industrialized nations as many smaller countries are way ahead of us.

So, nothing short of a "mission to the moon" by the government will turn our lemon into lemonade. Seriously, there is NO profit motive for oil companies to anything other than laugh all the way to the bank while doing nothing about refinement or alternative fuels. So, it will be up to government investment and regulation to make it happen. Sorry free marketers, we simply cannot afford to wait for the "free hand" to stop jerking itself off.

Think about America leading the way in developing technology and then EXPORTING it all over the world! Some things need a government push because the free market cares nothing about you or me. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing, just not reactive enough to overcome our own selfish desires.

We can do it, we just need to express the will to do so.

Come on, are we AmeriCANS or AmeriCAN'TS?

(Sorry, corny, and not terribly original)

Posted by: AfghanVet | April 25, 2006 09:09 AM

"Sorry free marketers, we simply cannot afford to wait for the "free hand" to stop jerking itself off..."

Thanks for bringing it up, AfghanVet. The latter is exactly my specialty. Do you think we can do it together someime?..

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 25, 2006 09:39 AM

I find it somewhat amusing that Americans are up in arms over $3 a gallon gas. Over on this side of the Atlantic, we've been paying more than that for quite a while. We drive smaller cars on the average, take trains far more often, walk, and cycle more. We used to pay 4x what Americans pay for gas, though with the recent increases in the US, the difference is now more like 2x. It hasn't killed us.

Of course, a lot of the high gas prices we pay here are due to taxes, so the money ends up being recycled for what our elected representatives determine to be the public interest, rather than multimillion dollar bonuses for oil company executives...

Posted by: Paralogos | April 25, 2006 10:01 AM

Everything I have been reading, hearing and seeing on this subject informs me that what we have is a demand problem, not a supply problem.

Look. There is--in the short term--very little that we can do about increasing supplies. The industry is insisting that--in a comical pun on what perhaps we ought to be considering--they are peddling as fast as they can to increase supplies. And, even if we were to accept in toto, the administrations's and their republican allie's drill and spill philosophy, it would be years, maybe decades before a meaningful impact would be felt.

That leaves us with little choice than to alter demand in a significant way. That is not easy to do because the American people have become conditioned into a culture of excess. Our political and economic systems are grounded upon excessive consumerism, and any attempt to ameliorate that condition invites the most venomous calumnies.

I have not even a scintilla of a hope that George W. Bush is serious about reducing our demand for oil. I predict that at the end of this day, when we all awaken in the morning, every utterance he has made will inure to the supply side of the equation. The very last thing he will think of is asking the American people to alter their excessive consumption.

He will make a rhetorical case against our "addiction to oil". But, in specifics, everything he does will be a reprise of all that he has done before. Tax cuts for the wealthy, trickery to add to our short term supplies of oil, and more delusional bragging about Iraq and the economy is all we are likely to get.

Posted by: Jaxas | April 25, 2006 10:17 AM

Emission standards for cars should apply to pick-up trucks too and then those of us driving economy cars will not be footing the gas bill for and pollution problems created by our pick-up driving cousins.

Posted by: Richard Katz | April 25, 2006 10:19 AM

I thik LabRat has it right in his Apr 24, 2006 2:47:39 PM posting.

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 10:19 AM

Considering how Cheney let the oil industry write the energy policies for this nation I doubt we will see anything coming out of Washington to investigate or impose any regulation on gas or its price. The republicans are in power and the last thing they will do is harm the oil industry, go against what it wants, or impose any type of regulation. This is the same republican party that fought seat belts, air bags and CAFE standards. Demands for action will be waved away as unnecessary, just as Rumsfeld waved away the looting of Baghdad.

Face it, America elected big oil into power and they are now running things for the next three years. We're all screwed and oil industry CEOs will retire with multi-million dollar parachutes while we all wonder whether we will have a pension.

Its rather brazen, not even talk of any of this trickling down. The republicans have successfuly taken America, a classless society, and in short order replaced it with a two teired class system: executives and the working class.

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 10:27 AM

Well, your pickup driving cousins aren't the source of the problem. With todays prices, $40 gets me a full tank and a weeks worth of a commute. Wish that the prices were lower, sure, but people get what they got coming. You wanna drive a Hummer, you're gonna pay for it. Start moving towards more fuel efficient cars/trucks and the market will respond.

Posted by: D. | April 25, 2006 10:28 AM

Sully has a point. It is brazen. The money people are not even bothering with the window dressings this time, its a power play. More like a middle digit raised in our pension dreaming faces.

Posted by: Richard Katz | April 25, 2006 10:46 AM

America is the most energy wasteful of the modern industrialised countries because energy is too cheap. Will said it all in the first post: if you want to decrease consumption (reduce dependence) then you have to raise the price. Elementary ecomnomics. Economics is all about behaviour and you have to change behaviour. You can't rely on people individually and collectively to make the correct choices so Government has to intervene. It should levy prohibitive taxes on gas gazzling SUV's and the like, and tax the super-normal profits away from the oil companies and apply revenues to helping the truly disadvantaged meet their essential energy needs. The so-called middle-class can suck it up and change their driving (and walking)habits. Industry and business will just have to become more energy efficient.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | April 25, 2006 10:58 AM

Emily, I am reminded of an old television commericial back in the 1980s selling automobile mufflers I believe, wherein the muffler salesman wryly quips: "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later".

The implication of course, was that the customer needed to replace his muffler now or it would become more expensive later. In Europe, they chose to pay upfront. So they invested in a culture that promoted less usage of oil and taxed the crap out of energy and plowed back the revenues into their transportation infrastructure.

My son, who presently lives in Amsterdam, tells me that the price of a litre of gas over there is about $3, which works out to about $12 per gallon. But, he does not own a car and travels all over Europe cheaply and safely using public transportation. He can take the Chunnell and be in London in less time than it takes me to drive from the middle to the state of Utah to Salt Lake City, with a good deal less stress and danger.

In America, we decided, as seems to be our wint, to defer payment until later. Well, now it is later. And we have those wonderful conservative republicans and their precious culture of personal responsibility and values and limited government and deregulation and unlimited private growth to thank for it all.

Posted by: Jaxas | April 25, 2006 11:01 AM

You wanna drive a Hummer, you're gonna pay for it. Start moving towards more fuel efficient cars/trucks and the market will respond.

Posted by: D. | Apr 25, 2006 10:28:11 AM | Permalink


Well the Hummer guy pays for it all right. But since his gas guzzler drives up demand which in turn drives up price for everybody else, you D end up paying for it too.

Now multiply that by the hundred million SUVs and pickups out there that get 15 mpg.

And add the manipulation cost by the supply side to the equation too. Oil IS manipulated on the SUPPLY side startting with OPEC, etc. Demand is only one half of the story.

Posted by: E | April 25, 2006 11:30 AM

Consumer behavior is demonstrably (Katrina) alterable with gasoline price increases. We are set to run a half-trillion dollar deficit. A gasoline tax increase, to the tune of 40-50 cent increase effective tomorrow, would immediately and drastically change consumer trends.

I spend less on gasoline today than I did 7 years ago. A series of consumer decision facilitated this.

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 11:34 AM

E-

Numbers don't fly. Per capita oil usage in the United States has gone down as prices have gone up. Demand does not operate on prices to any significant degree, they are determined by the price of crude oil which is a function of how many barrels the Saudis (and others) decide to pump out. The last thing OPEC wants to do is hike up gasoline prices so much that consumption is discouraged.

This is not the fault of SUV drivers who are making a perfectly reasonable decision given our relatively negligible domestic gasoline prices (but you'd never know it listening to people complain).

It is still cheaper to purchase a non-hybrid and spend extra on the gasoline because hybrids cost more. The day that the price of gasoline makes this a losing investment (such as what happened after Katrina) is the day that consumer trends will change.

You are not better than a person just because they drive an SUV. Get over yourselves.

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 11:38 AM

The only people that need to stop driving SUVs are the sissy-yuppie DC suburbanites. Some of us actually REQUIRE an suv to get home and do day to day things. Imagine if a bunch of DC yuppies came out to the country and saw someone using a thresher and thought it would be "quaint" to have one of their own and then when they got one, their friends wanted one, and their friends wanted one, and so on.... next thing you know, hey these things only get 2 miles per gallon, so we'd better get rid of all of them in the entire country and whoever drives one is a terrorist. Well, there goes farming. All because of some soccer moms wanting to drive a thresher to pick up their kids. I think you'll see that suv and truck sales have been about the same in rural states, where as the big cities are the ones that have to drive the biggest and baddest thing on 4 wheels just to go buy a tofu burger. and to everyone in dc and ny that can't wait for $100/barrel oil and thinks everyone should just boycott gasoline, that's easy to say when you don't own a car.

Posted by: wv boy | April 25, 2006 11:52 AM

WOW that's a first. From numbers don't lie to numbers don't fly!

Per capita oil usage in the US has gone down? Could it be the tens of millions of illegal immigrants, contrary to Fordoloid's claim, help drive the average down? Since they are too busy toiling in the fields and the back rooms from dawn to dusk while the rest of us spend two hours each day stuck in commute in our SUVs? Let's see, the mpg would be around 5 during those two hours?


Demand does not operate on prices to any significant degree? What the hell? More of the supply side voodoo economics? Simple econ 101 says high demand for a necessity coupled with controlled supply allows the controllers/manipulators to dictate the price at will. OPEC and the energy industrial complex got us by the balls now. They won't stop until they reach the maximum profit level sustainable. $4? $5?

More rationalization for SUV lovers? Hybrids cost more because the fixed development/production cost spread over the total hybrids is still high. If Detroit had pushed hybrids the way they pushed SUVs maybe a hybrid would cost no more than a thousand over a comparable non hybrid by now due to economy of scale? Like the cost of an automatic vs a manual?

15 mpg SUVs drivers are a BIG part of the problem. The 2007 Camry hybrid cost about the same as the average SUV and deliver 40 mpg city!

No I am not a better person because I drive a 4 cyl sedan and not an 8 cyl SUV, just a smarter more sensible consumer. And I do feel better about it.

Posted by: E | April 25, 2006 12:06 PM

"SUV .. reasonable decision... investment.."

Get over that frontier mentality, Will. Read Jaxas's posting on Europe & (at least try to) comprehend it.

Asking the mass of american consumers to reduce consumption of gasoline is like asking grizzly bears to stop deficating in the wilderness. A better comparison, anyone?

Posted by: Emilio | April 25, 2006 12:17 PM

Frontier mentality? How so? Big country we have here Emilio and some folks do need vehicles like SUV's and/or pickup trucks. For some folks, it is an investment...

Posted by: D. | April 25, 2006 12:37 PM

E-

I will accept that demand functions on the price of gasoline. But to oversimplify it as "Hummer drivers cause us to pay more at the pump because they drive up demand/costs" is to oversimplify the issue and complicate the dialogue.

The fact is, the place where Hummers are most popular, where demand and consumption for oil is highest, is the United States, which also happens to be the place with the cheapest (or one of) gasoline prices. I'm trying to point out that this relationship is not circumstancial; as the price of gasoline increases consumption will decrease. Europeans cannot drive SUVs because they have to pay twice or three times as much for gasoline. Americans can drive SUVs because we do not pay anything for gas.

"15 mpg SUVs drivers are a BIG part of the problem. The 2007 Camry hybrid cost about the same as the average SUV and deliver 40 mpg city!"

And it is small. People want bigger cars. If you want them out of these cars you are better off punishing them at the gas pump then condescendingly calling them idiots or pussies. As soon as gasoline prices reach a point where buying an SUV is financial retarded, people will stop purchasing SUVs. We saw this immediately after Katrina.

We can wait for gasoline prices to fix this, which could take years. Or we can fix it ourselves by taxing gasoline which has the added benefit of generating revenue which we need (500 billion dollar deficit).

"No I am not a better person because I drive a 4 cyl sedan and not an 8 cyl SUV, just a smarter more sensible consumer."

There is nothing senseless about driving an SUV in the United States right now because we still pay peanuts for gasoline. Europeans aren't more "sensible" than Americans for driving smaller cars, they just operate in a different tax environment that makes purchasing large cars unreasonable. The United States has not come around yet because we do not tax gasoline as much. Easy enough?

Emilio-

You don't "ask" someone to consume less gasoline. That's an ineffective strategy for reducing consumption. You set the game up so that they are forced to choose to consume less. Katrina had an immediate effect on gasoline prices which translated to an immediate change in consumer behavior. Do you understand why?

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 12:39 PM

Well said, vw boy. Yuppies are another curse. Is there something, anything, those nincompoops will NOT make a status symbol of??

Posted by: Emilio | April 25, 2006 12:39 PM

Emilio,

The problem with excessively large cars came about when Americans started living in them, not just using them to drive from one point to another. I don't mean sleeping in them, but I really do mean living in them.

When they spend two or three waking hours a day inside a car, they want the thing to to be spacious, safe, entertaining, in-touch, having cargo volume, quiet, fast, with eating and drinking appliances, etc.

The actual unbroken addiction is with broader living patterns which are increasingly insensitive and isolated from other people. After hours in the SUV, and some more hours in the job cube, then many go home to some more isolation in front of the PC. Breaking this robotic cycle through broader changes (in housing, levels and patterns of consumption and personal production, community or church interaction, food growing, dining habits, etc.) is the ultimate requirement to conserve energy used by cars.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 25, 2006 12:46 PM

I would like to present a challenge to each and every person who reads this:

The average household consumes approximately 600-800kWh per month (you can find this number on your electric bill). By doing the things listed below, we have cut ours to about 300kWh/month. I challenge you to do the same, or better:

1) Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off lights, lowering the thermostat (or having it on a timer), etc., can cut that number (and the amount of your utility bill) by almost half.

2) If you enjoy that result, take it one step farther and replace your incandecent bulbs with compact florecent bulbs -- they aren'y the old 'buzzing', dim lights anymore! (In this case, choose a good name brand as the cheaper ones have had some unpleasant issues.) You will pay 1/3 of what you were paying for lighting.

3) If you like your new low bills, use the money you've saved towards replacing your appliances with high-efficiency models. The result is an impressive reduction in usage and bill amount. The savings are immediate!

Our household (3 bedrooms, 4 people, typical living space, 2 TV's, 3 computers, full kitchen and a full office) uses about 300kWh/month, and that's only after implementing lifestyle changes, C/F lightbulbs and one instantaneous hot water heater. I can't wait to see what happens when we replace the appliances.

I realize this won't solve the world's the problems, but blaming everyone else won't solve them either. It does, however, give each of us a way to be responsible for our own contributions, and it collectively reduces consumption significantly. In addition, it puts real dollars back in our own pockets -- dollars some of us can really use right now.

It takes great character to assume responsibility -- anyone up for the challenge?

Posted by: Lisa DiFrancisco | April 25, 2006 12:48 PM

D

The problem is that the ratio of those who actually need SUV as opposed to those who OWN them is some 1 to 1.000.000, if not higher.

Posted by: Emilio | April 25, 2006 12:57 PM

Another suggestion.

Unplug your tv's when you are not watching them. They use power when they are off so they turn on "instantly."

Posted by: Richard Katz | April 25, 2006 01:19 PM

I just moved to the DC area from rural WV (town of 400, no stop light in my entire county) and I can tell you that not only do DC people not need SUVs, they sure can't drive them either. It takes them like 28 tries to back out of a parking spot. I have a jeep and I've always had a jeep. To get to where I used to live in wv, as well as several other places that I went on a normal day, you have to have something that sits high off the ground and has 4WD. I've seen mufflers literally ripped off the bottom of a car from trying to drive my hill. so are you saying that everyone from where I live has to get rid of their suvs and trucks simply because a bunch of soccermoms went out and bought hummers? I do my part to conserve energy in my home and I only drive my jeep to work and back, which is about 4 miles round trip. I figure if you owned a big truck or suv back when gas prices were around a dollar, then you obviously have a need for it. but if you're one of these little contract managers for some company in DC, contrary to what all your other manager friends say, you don't need a big truck that you have no clue how to drive to begin with. You live in a city, you should drive a car or maybe even a moped.

Posted by: WV Boy | April 25, 2006 01:22 PM

This issue is not complex.

Increase the supply of oil or reduce the demand for it (or a cobination of both).

LOTS of oil is waiting to be tapped (Gulf shore, Coasts of Cal. & FL, ANWR). Lots of red tape and special interest groups preventing us from doing so. We are also at our refining capacity and have not built a refinery since 1978. Federal regulations have simply made it too great a headache.

We can increase our oil supply. The question is, do we have the will to do so? Perhaps as gas prices rise, the will to act could follow.

Demand is of course curbed by the increased price. We can also decrease demand by diversifying our energy sources. We waste lots of petro-based energy heating homes etc. when there a far more efficient energy sources for such purposes (read: nuke power).

It amazes me that Americans feel that gas should just naturally be at a happy-low, affordable price.

At least we can now watch Congressional leaders demagogue this issue for another four months this summer,flogging their favorite boogeyman: oil companies.

Posted by: Jon M | April 25, 2006 01:39 PM

I thought this debate was about Foreign Oil Dependence, not whether people drive SUVs or not. This SUV issue seems to fog up the debate. Another is that "foreign oil" means "Saudi oil". The major exporter of foreign oil to the US is Canada. No one is thinking that Canada may embargo oil to the US.

So what is going on here. Well, oil/gas is a complex product involving:
-deriving the oil from its source.
-selling/shipping the raw oil.
-refining the oil into gasoline.
-distributing the gas to regions in the US.
-purchasing this gas from the refiners.
-modifying the gas, such as adding additives.
-shipping the gas via trucks to gas stations.
-purchasing the gas and filling up our cars.

Notice that the majority of the work, and thus eventual cost, is done in the US from the refining process on. Foreign oil is not more of a problem than foreign diamonds, foreign gold or any other foreign commodity. However companies that refine oil into gas are also pumping oil and purchase oil. They are businesses and thus want to maximize profits. They can do this in many ways:

1) Adjust the amount of oil pumped: This will allow more oil to be refined and thus more gas can be sold. However the cost to refine more oil will be higher. Unless it makes more profits, oil companies will not refine more oil. They will try to maintain a state where the amount of oil they pull out of the ground or buy produces an amount of gas that will create the maximum profit. So you will not see any oil company try to put out more gasoline if it means their profits would go down, no matter what the price reaches.

2) Reduce the amount of gasoline refined: By taking refineries offline, refiners make money by idling the refineries. This also will create a relative shortage and the price of gas will climb. This cannot be taken too far since if they cut back too far their profits will drop. Again they will maintain a refining capacity that maximizes profits.

If economics were not an issue, all offline refineries could be brought back online. All oil pumping could be brought up to meet the demand of the additional refineries. A gasoline glut would ensue. Prices would tumble. But economics is the main issue due to the maximization of profits.

So what are we average Americans to do. Well, as I see it we're screwed because the administration will never go against the oil industry to help or protect the American people. We are sheep and are being fleeced while Bush talks about immigration and other topics. What will help is another source of fuel for automobiles. The only one close to becomming a reality is ethanol. Ethanol, at 85% blended with 15% gas will cause the oil inductry not just to compete with other oil producers and refiners, but with an entirely different segment of the market, the ethanol industry. A large ethanol industry would force gasoline producers to adjust their profits as they compete with ethanol. It would also offset changes in production or demand.

The US should embark on a crash development of an ethanol industry with grants from DOE going to every university and research organization able to develope concepts or techniques to support a national ethanol industry. However ethanol will compete directly with oil and you can be sure the oil companies are watching this. I expect they will kill it by forcing the republicans to quietly let the subject fade as they lower their prices to accomodate. And history will once again have repeated itself.

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 01:51 PM

You live in a city, you should drive a car or maybe even a moped.

Posted by: WV Boy | Apr 25, 2006 1:22:14 PM

Agree, but scooter, not moped. Scooters go 80-90 mph. Mopeds are for the sissies! Ha ha.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 02:07 PM

Hmmm....reminds me of that old joke about fat girls and mopeds...fun to ride until your friends catch you. Anyway.....

Posted by: D. | April 25, 2006 02:36 PM

I save $275/month in parking fees too. Fat girls are looking pretty good to me lately.

They are the wave of the future.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 02:45 PM

Scooters, that is.

Posted by: | April 25, 2006 02:47 PM

Yea, mopeds are silly, except the concept of starting the motor from a stop using pedals is not dissimilar to a hybrid which starts the car moving using the electric motor intil it gets up to a certain speed. The hybrid is the moped of the automobile world.

Now if they could just mass produce hybrids that can plug into an outlet in my garage. People have retro-fitted hybrids to do just that and get a MPG in the hundreds. Now, considering it is feasible, has been done by hobbiests so the proof of concept is out there, why do we see nothing coming to market?

Here is a link about hooking up a Prius to house power to stretch the MPG:
http://hybridcars.about.com/od/glossaryofhybridcarterm/g/PHEV.htm

Here is a link about doing the opposite, using the prius to power your house during a power failure (it would act as a generator):
http://www.priups.com/riddle/answer-1.htm
Now that's cool!

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 02:57 PM

I'll let you guys in on a secret. I could have easily bought some large powerful rice-burner or a harley, but there is nowhere to put it downtown without paying for parking. Even some scooters are powerful, but they look too much like motorcycles. With a smaller looking scooter, you can get away with parking on the sidewalk, chained to anything nearby.

The largest of the "small" ones are 200-250cc. They are fast, faster than most cars from the line, and use very little gas. Plus, they have 4-cycle water cooled encgines and don't pollute like 2-cycle ones do. Plus, I never, ever wait in traffic. I go through traffic. Mine is so confortable, it feels like I'm driving a chair from my living room. Best thing since sliced bread.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 02:59 PM

Sully-

"Now, considering it is feasible, has been done by hobbiests so the proof of concept is out there, why do we see nothing coming to market?"

I expect we will, in the future. Your first link answers the question, though:

"The battery's size and weight as well as other factors have made PHEVs somewhat cost prohibitive..."

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 03:10 PM

The cost of converting the hybrids into PHEV is around $10K today. That would come down to at least $2500 if the technology were mass marketed. Here's a nice link describing companies that will convert the prius into a PHEV today:
http://hybridcars.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=hybridcars&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.calcars.org%2Findex.html
So why isn't the federal govt. pushing the auto companies to go this route? Might it be the republican "market place takes care of itself" attitude? I swear if republicans wanted to go to the moon they would think it impossible because the marketplace could not justify it.

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 03:29 PM

Sorry, the link for PHEV vendors is:
http://www.calcars.org/howtoget.html

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 03:30 PM


johnny in NE DC wrote:

"With a smaller looking scooter, you can get away with parking on the sidewalk, chained to anything nearby."
__________

Parking racks for scotters ought to be a city-provided solution. Florence, Italy, years ago, virtually banned all citizen's cars from downtown, and scooters filled the gap. Seems to work in reasonably intelligently temperate climates; also has the benefit of somewhat weeding out people with reflexes so poor they are a driving hazard to begin with.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 25, 2006 03:31 PM

I was appalled by an ad on page A3 of the Washington Post last Friday April 21! It was a full 1/2 page ad by Mercedes touting the new E350 Sedan. There was a picture of it and the words "More HORSES. Bigger ENGINE. Increased ENVY."
Perhaps I'm just envious.

Posted by: Mary | April 25, 2006 03:53 PM

Michael Canny - "To Chris Ford and all those others who would gut our environment to drill for oil, that is not the solution. Among other things, it would be at least a decade before we saw any of the oil that MIGHT be found in these exploration and drilling efforts. Won't help us much now, and very likely never will help much."

That was the argument environmentalists made 25 years ago when they began banning oil exploration and development off any additional coastal areas - basically the whole East and West Coasts, half the Gulf, plus drilling on land in Alaska and various other "pristine lands" out West under the control of the Fed Gov't. 25 years - if we had started then we'd have it now, and the environmentalist argument that we can't ever do it because of the delay time they themselves inflicted is a fatuous argument.

Canny - "Permanent destruction for temporary satisfaction is a bad bargain."

Why is there permanent destruction. That is typically the argument made by someone in a Blue State seeking to impose their will to block residents of a Red State who live with relatively innocuous oil and gas exploration and production nearby. The average person can walk on a wildlife reserve outside LA that used to have several oilfields and not know the difference.

Canny - "Standardizing refinery and formulation requirements is a good idea--provided the most stringent ones are the ones used."

No, that's stupid if formulations are overly stringent and do not pass a cost-benefit analysis.

Canny - "The New Emgland States and California have adopted these standards because they have to--the air quality there has deteriorated that much."

No actually air in New England is vastly superior to what it was 35 years ago. Going lead-free, using catalytic convertors, and having a fairly stable population while other States have exploded due to unchecked immigration has improved air. What bad air contributors exist are from air pollution coal plants in the Midwest vital to our nation coming to the East,and congestion around NYC where unchecked immigration has swelled road usage 150-200% past planned design levels. In California, the biggest contributor to air pollution and excess energy use is gridlock - again - from a road infastructure system planned for the 40 million Californians we planned to have in 2100, not the 55 million we have there now.

Canny - "The biggest offender hurting the air is vehicle exhaust."

The biggest national contributor is coal. In local areas like California and certain congested cities, it is vehicles. Outside certain areas in immigrant-choked California and certain other cities piling in people, air quality is vastly superior to what it was 35 years ago.

Air pollution is not the "crisis" America faces now. It is an approaching significant loss in our standard of living unless we dispense with the hippie fantasies of the 70s and get serious about having our future energy needs addressed.

Again, hard numbers. We use 107 Quads. Open Borders means we will need 127-128 Quads in 2030. Alternate energy is 3 Quads and states seeing large numbers of windmills are now fighting that source. Solar is a joke. So is ethanol on a national scale.

The hard numbers say coal, nuclear are the long term sources, and a mix that includes them and nat gas, oil are our future sources for 95% of our energy needs 20 years out.

The hard numbers say that Americans use 30% less oil per capita than in 1970, but we as a nation use 35% more because our population grew by 80 million people from unchecked immigration and their familias. We are on track to add 63 million more by 2030. Each immigrant wipes out the energy conservation savings of 10% by 10 Americans here already. So we can't conserve our way out of this mess. We have to develop the Big 4 sources of energy.

Fusion and endless dark matter power generation from from quantum wormholes, and oil from turkey guts and sewage would be nice...but we can't count on "exciting alternatives" the dopers have talked about since 1970 but never came to be - coming to be a reality in the next 20-30 years either.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 25, 2006 04:06 PM

Chris wrote:
"Air pollution is not the "crisis" America faces now. It is an approaching significant loss in our standard of living unless we dispense with the hippie fantasies of the 70s and get serious about having our future energy needs addressed."

Hmmm, hippie fantasies. The reason air pollution today is not as big as problem as it would have been is due to many hippies working on legislation to reduce plant and vehicle emissions. I would also credit hippie fantasies for seat belts, CAFE standards and air bags. And the hippie fantasy today is total independence from oil, foreign and domestic, by utilizing ethanol, hydrogen and other non-fossil fuels. Thanks God for the hippies of the world for the world is a better place due to their fantasies.

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 04:21 PM

"You don't "ask" someone to consume less gasoline. That's an ineffective strategy for reducing consumption. You set the game up so that they are forced to choose to consume less. Katrina had an immediate effect on gasoline prices which translated to an immediate change in consumer behavior. Do you understand why?" writes one Will.

Am I to understand they should raise gas prices even higher to decrease the consumption?.. Am I also to understand you are a cretin, Will?

Posted by: Emilio | April 25, 2006 04:58 PM

What's that stench??.. Oh no....

Why don't you just go back to your preoccupations, Ford, you filthy pervert.

Posted by: Emilio | April 25, 2006 05:08 PM

In light of this situation, I believe we should immediately surrender in Iraq.

Posted by: Not the time to quit the prescription drugs | April 25, 2006 05:23 PM

Emilio-

"Am I to understand they should raise gas prices even higher to decrease the consumption?.. Am I also to understand you are a cretin, Will?"

My cretenism not withstanding, I emphatically think they should raise gasoline prices higher to discourage consumption. In fact, the only possible reasonable measure to discourage excess consumption is increased gasoline prices.

We also operate at a 500 billion dollar deficit, so a 50 cent tax on gasoline could be a potential source of much-needed government revenue.

Do I think naive measures --such as insulting a person's lifestyle on the internet, starting up recycling initiatives (that are hampered by the 95% of us who "free ride"), or crossing our fingers over alternative fuel sources that are not commercially viable today-- are useless and unhelpful? Absolutely.

You all pine endlessly about an American "cultural" love affair with big SUVs, as if the rest of the world is enlightened beyond that. Europeans do not drive SUVs BECAUSE they have higher gasoline prices. If you are serious about reducing an individual's consumption you need to make the decision financially unviable. Raising the price of gasoline by 50 cents, through taxation, will do just that.

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 05:29 PM

And I will note there is a historical precedent. Following Katrina the price of gasoline spiked, and immediately hybrid and efficient car sales increased and SUV/truck sales decreased.

All the while our leaders will debate a bunch of politically complicated measures to decrease our "oil dependence" which is really nothing more than American consumers making perfectly reasonable decisions about oil consumption. The Euros are so englightened because their governments tax them twice or three times as much to use the pump. So of course their consumption behavior is different.

If you think they are so "enlightened" then why don't you support their policies?

Gasoline tax.

Posted by: Will | April 25, 2006 05:34 PM

E wrote:
"No I am not a better person because I drive a 4 cyl sedan and not an 8 cyl SUV, just a smarter more sensible consumer. And I do feel better about it"

Based on the mpg you posted, you sir, are not thinking of the broad picture. You are not a smarter or more sensible consumer.

You owe current gas prices to SUV drivers. Not because they drive up prices, but because they keep it lower. If everyone drove high mpg cars like you mentioned, gas would be much more expensive. First off, because gas companies could charge it as they know everyone would have to pay it. Just as gas prices can rise because of demand, they can rise because of the market they are selling to. With so many SUV drivers out there, the market cannot afford to charge too much without taking a hit.

Not to mention that SUV drivers keep prices down because they pay extra taxes on gas per mile overall. Last I heard, taxes collected on gasoline helped pay for road upkeep etc. While SUV's do cause more wear and tear, they result in a lot more money collected in taxes. Meanwhile, you're 40mpg car hurts uses more than you give as you pay much less in taxes per mile and most likely drive more as its less expensive.

Posted by: Geb | April 25, 2006 06:20 PM

The only thing that will control demand for oil in the US is high prices at the pump. Even at $3.00 we are still paying substantially less than what the rest of the world pays and given the geoplitical costs associated with foreign dependence, a lot less than the true cost of oil to our future generations. If we believe in a free market, then let oil rise to world prices and use a windfall tax to ease the pain to our neediest and to support a program to decreased oil dependence

Posted by: JWS42 | April 25, 2006 06:32 PM

Well, I live in Seattle, our state's oil comes from Alaska, and we don't have any Katrina impacts or ethanol/blend requirements - but our price went up 50 cents a gallon anyway.

It's all a game to fill the Bush Family and Cheney's pockets with our Middle Class dollars, in his War on America's Middle Class.

Want to know who we REALLY import oil from?

Canada.

Venezuala.

Not the Middle East.

Bush has been trying to upset our major suppliers, and it's working. Time to fire him and his anti-American neocon elites.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 25, 2006 06:52 PM

I am getting in a little late on the coversation, but can government provide incentives or penalties for telecommunting? A taz break for companies that have a 15% telecommunting workforce.

I don't have the numbers, but how much gas could be saved if 80% of the american workforce worked from home one day a week?

Posted by: Bryan in Raleigh | April 25, 2006 07:05 PM

You owe current gas prices to SUV drivers. Not because they drive up prices, but because they keep it lower. If everyone drove high mpg cars like you mentioned, gas would be much more expensive. First off, because gas companies could charge it as they know everyone would have to pay it. Just as gas prices can rise because of demand, they can rise because of the market they are selling to. With so many SUV drivers out there, the market cannot afford to charge too much without taking a hit.

Not to mention that SUV drivers keep prices down because they pay extra taxes on gas per mile overall. Last I heard, taxes collected on gasoline helped pay for road upkeep etc. While SUV's do cause more wear and tear, they result in a lot more money collected in taxes. Meanwhile, you're 40mpg car hurts uses more than you give as you pay much less in taxes per mile and most likely drive more as its less expensive.

Posted by: Geb | Apr 25, 2006 6:20:31 PM | Permalink


Man I know 1984 came and went. But this in 2006? What car company do you work for?

You have proven SUVs drivers are idiots! There I said it.

Posted by: E | April 25, 2006 08:14 PM

The only thing that will control demand for oil in the US is high prices at the pump. Even at $3.00 we are still paying substantially less than what the rest of the world pays and given the geoplitical costs associated with foreign dependence, a lot less than the true cost of oil to our future generations. If we believe in a free market, then let oil rise to world prices and use a windfall tax to ease the pain to our neediest and to support a program to decreased oil dependence

Posted by: JWS42 | Apr 25, 2006 6:32:16 PM | Permalink

High gas prices in Europe and Japan are due to govt TAX, not market forces.

Posted by: | April 25, 2006 08:17 PM

"15 mpg SUVs drivers are a BIG part of the problem. The 2007 Camry hybrid cost about the same as the average SUV and deliver 40 mpg city!"

And it is small. People want bigger cars. If you want them out of these cars you are better off punishing them at the gas pump then condescendingly calling them idiots or pussies.

Posted by: Will | Apr 25, 2006 12:39:24 PM | Permalink

Look again! The Camry is now classified as a MIDSIZE sedan packing 192HP!

Posted by: E | April 25, 2006 08:39 PM

If that is midsize, my 69 Electra 225 is collosal jumbo. And it packs a stock 360 hp 450tq.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 25, 2006 08:56 PM

Brazil is energy-independent, having switched most of their automotive fuel to plant-based sources. We put a man on the moon within a decade after Pres. Kennedy proposed the idea.

What the heck are we doing spending all our nation's treasure on the black hole of Iraq, in the name of holy OIL? Has the nation, collectively, gone mad? I want plant-based fuel and fuel stations, and affordable plant-based fuel-consuming cars, and I want them ASAP! Let the tax-payer-subsidized fallow fields be used to grow what we need. This should have been started in the 70's and we'd be there by now.

I've been driving cars since the 70's oil embargo that had the highest MPG ratings I could afford. All during this time, I've looked around and seen everyone else hogging all the finite petroleum resources of the planet in their needs for selfish conspicuous consumption. Is this caused by the stupidity of the masses and the corruption of government demagogues? But doesn't Brazil have those problems, too? WHAT EXCUSE CAN WE USE NEXT?

I'm willing to pay a LOT MORE for ethanol or pure bio-diesel, if it is the answer to foreign oil dependency.

Posted by: washalien | April 25, 2006 08:56 PM

I would urge you to understand that the problem is multilevular...


it's not price, it's not demand, it's not selfishness, it's not ecology, it's not lack of planning...


it's all of those things and more together...


you want the government to start listening to you, start arresting some of them...

.


starting with those that employ illegals is a good place to start, but arresting scofflaws and publishing their names, would go a long way towards...

removing the lawbreakers from being lawmakers...

as I said earlier:

_you_ have a clearance you lose it if you break a law like tax evasion, dui, excess speeding, assault, fraud, bribing, and so on....


are the people that pass your laws having to obey them? apparently not...


you want better people in charge,


don't elect people that can't get a clearance.......


not that that is the end all be all of character judgement, but the people that are actually making laws, passing bills, should have to carry the same level of credibility of someone that has a TS-EBI

minimum


Top Secret - Extended Background Investigation w/poly

.

Posted by: that was fun... | April 25, 2006 09:50 PM

"you want the government to start listening to you, start arresting some of them..."

Why not just vote them out? I find it interesting that with an election coming up there is a lot of talk about Iraq, Bush's incompetence and republican corruption, but I have yet to hear anyone talking about taking this country on a different track to get us to energy independence. You would think, with $3 gasoline, that it would be an election issue. Maybe its still too early in the year, but I'm getting the feeling that higher prices are something people do not like but feel powerless to change through the political process. I think that is wrong.

The republicans sat by while oil prices went from $40/barrel to $70+ and gasoline from $2/gal to $3/gal, and all within a few years. Any democrat president would consider it a national emergency. I remember Clinton reacting decisively to prices edging up a much smaller amount than we have seen recently. The effects on our economy will be large and felt by this summer. Its one thing to not be able to control gas/oil prices, as seems to be the Bush administration's and the republican's response. Its another to not even try. November, its time for a change. Help is on the way!

Posted by: Sully | April 25, 2006 11:09 PM

I'm a realist.

you have to create a climate where there are actions that are taken that are in accordance with the trust


violated.

let's just suppose that _all_ of Iraq was about economics

not national security.

then it becomes an issue of murder, not just Iraqis but Americans by Americans, in more ways than one...

--------------------

you have to create an atmosphere where your governing bodies are

responsible.


I'm not about making everyone squeaky clean,

initially,

I'd just like to see laws enforced that I know are being broken, as someone that worked there I know that people at the upper levels get away

dui's, parking tickets, tax evasion, bribery, fraud, hiring illegals...

with many things that you can't.

bush is demonstrating this now.
snorting coke, alcoholic, leaker, draftdodger...fraud, and so on


you want to send a message that makes rectums get tight....

put an _untouchable_ away...


or a whole family of them.


or make it so that everyone that was at the congressional level or Supreme or JCS (Joint Chief of Staff) level was audited every two years....and poly-ed

why the world would be a different place...


reality requires that _they_ play by the same rules you have to..


otherwise it's spin city,

you want to stop the spin, nail some feet to the floor and punch them out.

.

Posted by: well, it's like this... | April 25, 2006 11:21 PM

it takes the pressure off of the administration and your government...

IF I were president, I'd request that we pass a law _now_ to raise the tax on gas an additional dollar and move that the money got banked or put towards infrastructure repair with a significant amount allocated to inner city transport measures...making city living more comfortable...and commuting less car oriented...

like that, that's responsible leadership...


you really need to understand...

framing it so that _you_ have to be more responsible


is their habit, reverse the trend and it's over.

.

Posted by: in a sense talking about the price is a misfit... | April 25, 2006 11:24 PM

you've got to put a knife through the hand that keeps moving the pea...


and stop the game.

Posted by: it's a shell game... | April 25, 2006 11:27 PM

GOP Blocks Measures Boosting Taxes on Oil Company Profits
Provisions Passed by Senate Would Raise About $5 Billion

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 26, 2006; Page A06

Posted by: your congress at work... | April 25, 2006 11:34 PM

but primarily Guilliani had it right,

scofflaws don't obey the law, any laws....

and if you're monied that works, in your home town,

it doesn't have to work in DC, unless you let them get away with it...

Posted by: there's multiple issues... | April 25, 2006 11:36 PM

telecommuting?

how about giving those rednecks back the telecommuting customer service jobs that were shipped to India?

they probably can't all work at BurgerKing,

and they certainly can't find blue-collar work when they're knee deep in illegals..

eh jefe'

Posted by: how much money would be saved by | April 25, 2006 11:56 PM

E claims:
"You have proven SUVs drivers are idiots! There I said it."
If I've proven anything, it's only that 4 door sedan drivers are idiots. Mazda 6 boyo. Thanks for being condescending. Glad to know that you know what you're talking about.

Posted by: Geb | April 26, 2006 11:12 AM

E,
So what part of my comment makes me live in 1984, btw?

The comment on taxes on gas help paying for road upkeep etc? As I said,that was last I heard. Granted, it was in a story in the last year or so, where I was reading that California and one or two other states were looking into how to deal with deteriorating roads with not enough taxes; because of higher mpg cars, the claim was that roads were deteriorating faster than the taxes from gas could pay for them. Talk was being had of taxing based on how much you drive as opposed to how much gas you use. But as I said, that was last I heard, so I acknowledge it might be wrong. I notice that you didn't try to actually correct me of that belief.

Or was it the thought that gas stations can only charge as much as they think consumers will pay? When half the consumer population pays x for 16 mpg and the other half pays x for 40 mpg, stations will cater towards the highest price they think the 16 mpg group will buy. They obviously don't want to jeopordize 50% of their market. It's naive to think that if almost all cars got 500 mpg, stations wouldn't be charging 30-100 dollars per gallon. If this isn't the case, please explain how I'm wrong.

It's fine to disagree with me and even mock me for it. But if you aren't going to explain how or why I am wrong, I'm going to write you off as a hack with no argument. From your response, all I know is that I made two points that you didn't counter, save an attack on myself. Kinda makes you look like a fool, especially as I'm willing to admit my mistakes in thinking if you explain them.

/Thanks for playing E. Better luck next time.

Posted by: Geb | April 26, 2006 11:28 AM

obviously he's responding to your point that SUV people are selfish...

he's not telling you he's an SUV driver...


when people respond in such a way as to ignore what you said that is in fact a salient point...


buying something that is for penis value rather than because they need it because they live in SD...

exposes something they need to hide, vulnerability.

.

or they wouldn't be driving it in the first place....


it's a symbol of the life they "would be having" if they weren't so tied to their mothers apron strings.

Posted by: he's just saying your a control freak.. | April 26, 2006 12:39 PM

Welcome back Random Poster.

Geb, to understand why you are wrong you should study economics. I mean, from the ELEMENTARY level.
Will, what seems to be works in Europe (high gas tax) won't necessarily work in the U.S. Porqe no?.. For starters, livelihood of millions of Americans depend on daily driving. Yep, job commute, grocery shopping, etc. In europe it's faster and cheaper to get around by train, bus or foot. In the US, it's neither, if possible at all, for reasons we all aware of: absence of efficient public transportation, mass prejudice against it, the sheer size of the countryside, suburban sprawl, to name a few. A lot of folks prefer to live "out there", for complex physiological reasons, no less. Then again, the tradition of "unlimited personal freedom" made possible by driving and all that BS car industry has been feeding you for like 100 years now.

The real problem is not the gas prices per se, it's that, unlike in Europe, there's very little the masses can do about it but pay up.

Fin.

Posted by: Emilio | April 26, 2006 01:42 PM

Thank you for the facts,I have come up with the perfect solution for the crises that is currently facing the nation, i.e., the high cost of oil, oil-based products and gasoline.

If we could simply get the following entities in America to stop the greed and price-gouging, we could afford our high energy costs. For example:

If we could get the Federal, State & Local Governments to stop,
If we could get corporate executives and our bosses to stop,
If we could get home-developers and home-builders to stop,
If we could get landlords to stop,
If we could get the Homeowners Associations to stop,

If we could get the medical industry, health professionals and other service providers to stop,
If we could get pharmaceutical companies to stop,
If we could get insurance carriers to stop,
If we could get my the dental service providers to stop,
If we could get utility companies to stop,

If we could get the mechanics and dealerships to stop,
If we could get the taxicab and toll-roads to stop,
If we could get the church and ministers to stop,
If we could get educational institutions to stop,
If we could get all the individual trades to stop,

If we could get the restaurateurs to stop,
If we could get the sports franchises to stop,
If we could get manufacturers to stop,
If we could plumbers and repairmen to stop,
If we could get the downtown and uptown parking garages to stop,

If we could get beauticians and barbers to stop,
If we could get hotels and all of the travel industry to stop,
If we could get the butcher to stop,
If we could get the wedding chapels to stop,
If we could get the guy who rents out the hall for wedding receptions to stop

If we could get the Morticians to stop,
If we could get athletes and entertainers to stop,
If we could get the cable guy (pun intended) and the satellite TV guy to stop,
If we could get banks and other credit organizations to stop,
And if we could just get you to stop...(whatever your trade or business may be),

Then we all could have enough money left over to pay the exorbitant prices that are being set by greedy oil barons and energy suppliers like gas stations, and there might still be enough left over after to go to Disneyland. Oops, they need to stop it too, been there lately?

Get it, almost every entity and person in America is overcharging! Greed is not unique to the oil industry, and I apologize if I left you or your organization off of my quickly constructed list; nevertheless, stop it and we will all have more money in our pockets!

Peace & Grace,

Posted by: Rev. C. Solomon | April 26, 2006 02:03 PM

Emilio,
Thanks so much for clearing that up. You've really explained how supply and demand effect cost of gas, not to mention the concept of why companies will obviously only charge what they are charging now, rather than what they feel consumers can and will pay.

And thanks for explaining the concepts surrounding the taxes.

Thanks again for doing exactly what I criticised E for.

Posted by: Geb | April 26, 2006 02:32 PM

I know what you're saying, Reverend, furthermore, I can't agree more. The exorbitance of the gas prices, however, is a particularly sensitive matter for the American consumer. A special case, if you will, that spawned this discussion.

Peace to you as well.

ps. I have nothing else to add except that religion is the opium for the masses.

Posted by: Emilio | April 26, 2006 02:41 PM

Emilio-

"For starters, livelihood of millions of Americans depend on daily driving. Yep, job commute, grocery shopping, etc. In europe it's faster and cheaper to get around by train, bus or foot."

Why do you think livelihoods of millions of Americans depends on daily driving whereas livelihoods of millions of Europeans does not? Why do you think Americans commute farther to work on average than Europeans? Why do you think Americans drive farther to the grocery store? Why do you htink it is cheaper to get around on foot, bus, or train in Europe than it is to drive?

Because they tax the oil over there, stupid.

American consumer behavior, including usage of their feet, bicycles, or public transportation to go to work, will change only if the viable alternative --in this case incredibly cheap gasoline-- becomes unviable.

"In the US, it's neither, if possible at all, for reasons we all aware of: absence of efficient public transportation, mass prejudice against it, the sheer size of the countryside, suburban sprawl, to name a few."

Everything you've listed is an EFFECT of cheap gasoline on the public. 1) absence of efficient public transportation is a result of no public demand for reasonable transportation because there is no need. Driving is cheap. 2) Mass prejudice against public transporation is a result of no incentive to utilize it since, as above, it's cheap just to drive to work. 3) Sheer size of the countryside? Russia's gasoline prices are quickly approaching European prices (and have already surpassed US prices). 4) One cause of suburban sprawl is the access suburbanites have to commuting from, you guessed it, cheap gasoline prices.

"A lot of folks prefer to live "out there", for complex physiological reasons, no less."

Huh?? And we should accomodate them why?

"The real problem is not the gas prices per se, it's that, unlike in Europe, there's very little the masses can do about it but pay up."

You don't think Europeans have had to drastically change their consumer behaviors as a result of gasoline prices? What planet do you live on?

Frankly I don't even care if you think gasoline prices are too high in America. The only thing I want to point out is that IF (which you apparently are not) you are serious about decreasing American oil consumption THEN the only effective means to that end is to increase gasoline prices.

If you think Americans consume the "right" amount of oil then fine. If you think we consume too much, but you also don't think they should have to pay more, then you have nothing substantive to contribute. Identifying a problem and then refuting the only possible solution is pointless.

Posted by: Will | April 26, 2006 02:58 PM

Rudeness, Will, will get you nowhere.

Besides, you can't possibly get anymore dumber than you already are.

Worse, you clearly ignorant of the US history (your own country, I presume).

Nor do you have understanding of economics or read papers.

So why don't you just f.. fade away, will you, Will. Almost forgot, I have a more appropriate handle for you, Will: "All Wheels but no Brain." Use it, wear it out, dumba**.

Posted by: Emilio | April 26, 2006 03:31 PM

"Besides, you can't possibly get anymore dumber than you already are."

Funny guy.

Have a good one, kid.

Posted by: Will: "All Wheels but no Brain." | April 26, 2006 04:15 PM

I personally enjoy how these Emilio and E both rely on insults rather than proving people wrong. Really shows the strengths of their points, no?

Posted by: Freedom | April 26, 2006 05:44 PM

Whatever the issues driving the cost of oil, one thing is clear...we need to start running our vehicles on something else before foriegn oil cuts us off and our economy collapses. Already the cost of food and some goods has tripled due to transportation costs. Maybe we should convert our trucking and public transportation fleets first, before the cost of basic necessities becomes unaffordable. Looks like a crisis to me!!

Posted by: memary | April 27, 2006 12:37 PM

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html All of that was done in the late sevnties and it was working but the politicians screwed it up, as always!

Posted by: Jim | April 28, 2006 12:44 PM

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html All of that was done in the late sevnties and it was working but the politicians screwed it up, as always!

Posted by: Jim | April 28, 2006 12:44 PM

The need for sobriety and honesty: Now we have to pay for Americans have been doing for years.

I was involved in a similar discussion over the web, about 5 years. The problem is not OPEC at all.

I explained during that exchange, that Americans have set the prices for their goods and services domestically and on the world markets for year. I then asked why American producers of goods and services felt that they had the right to charge whatever they wanted to for their goods and services, however, organizations like OPEC and other foreign concerns could not do the same?

Folks, other nations have paid the exorbitant prices for American goods and services for years, you cannot then turn around and dictate to foreign concerns, organizations, and producers of products and services what you will pay for their goods, using the threat of American-style terrorist tactics. We tried that before and it did not work, remember, the gas lines of a few decades ago.

Once again we see working here is American hegemony and 'ye ole double-standard'. White Americans have lived with a double-standard for years, domestically and on the foreign stage. But times have changed.

So leave OPEC alone and worry about the price gouging and greed that goes on, unchecked, in this country every single day and by all of you and all of our manufacturers and all of our healthy, legal and other services providers.

Every industry and profession in America is guilty of greed, I am not sure that the rest of the world is guilty of the same, many of them are trying to play catch up. And if they are guilty of greed, they are simply following the example that was set by Americans.

The Bible says that whatever you sow, you shall also reap!. And besides, I don't see anyone in this country, not just the oil companies, lowering their exorbitant prices for housing, food, health and human services or anything else for that matter. Where will it stop?

Many of you who are complaining about the high prices of oil, are just as greedy and will try to get as much as you can get from other consumers, despite what it costs you to produce your products or to provide services, you greedy Americans.

This is just the beginning, with globalization the world has changed forever and Americans can no longer have it their way, well, i.e., unless you decide to attack another country.

Truth hurts!
Peace & Grace,

Posted by: Rev. C. Solomon | April 28, 2006 01:15 PM

Lisa,

I have already taken up your challenge... I have reduced my energy consumption by half and spent thousands on upgrading my water heater and furnace and appliances to energy efficient systems. I am now considering installing solar panels on my roof to further reduce my household energy costs. That will probably cost me about 15,000 after I get my rebates.

The thing is, my cost for fuel for vehicle still seem to be rising! What am I doing wrong? I don't want to drive a car I have to drive a car! I have a family of 5 and I really don't think a moped is going to cut it.

I really don't like the idea of filling the pockets of the greedy oil companys (and don't say they aren't I saw that sick retirement package!) but what else can I do? We don't have an effective mass transit sytem where i live (CA). I would ride my bike cept it is way too far because the house that I can afford (which is nothing like the house I grew up in!) is too far from where I work.

I did not start this fire but I am willing to help put it out... I just wish that Americans (like Will and Ford) would wake up and realize we are not going to talk this problem away. I takes ACTION by AMERICANS to GIT ER DONE.

Where are the AMERICANS?

I am doing my part when will my government do its part?

"Remember, remember the 5th of November..."

AND the 2nd of November!

Posted by: donnerboy | April 28, 2006 02:22 PM

If America imported half as much crude oil (5 million barrels a day) over twelve months and paid half as much per gallon, due to lower demand ($30 a barrel), we could save $165 billion (three-quarters of $220 billion).

If we subsidize the manufacture of the 16.5 million cars and trucks we build over the same span -- to build all as PLUG-IN hybrids -- to the tune of $10,000 a vehicle, it would cost $165 billion.

The hybrids power plants on sale today merely milk the braking process for electric power: the alpha and omega of their added efficiency -- which is still enough to save 35% on gas in stop and go driving.

Plug-in hybrids charge mostly off the power grid -- allowing them to save 70% on gas in mixed city and highway driving - for the first fifty miles - enough to eliminate most imported oil, were all American vehicles plug-ins.

A $10,000 subsidy could break down thus: $5000 for a hybrid power plant; add $3000 for a double size, multiples higher output lithium battery; plus $2000 to replace said battery after 6 years.

Today's hybrids' batteries last 200,000 plus miles because their computers carefully maintain their charge between 30% and 60% of capacity. Drawing a fully charged battery down to zero - to utilize a plug-in battery's far deeper reserves -- limits recharging to 2,500 cycles.

Most of the $10,000 subsidy could be recouped via a $500 a year tax. Owners could save more on gas. Electric horsepower is touted as one-third as costly as gasoline power (with lower pollution, even if drawn from coal fired plants) by plug-in advocates. Economies of scale and advances in battery tech could quickly cut into the subsidy.

At $75 a barrel, another $55 billion a year could soon be at stake. How high may the stakes be 12 years from now if we decline the free upgrade? -- which is how long it will take to turn America's pouring oil on the flaming trade deficit fleet over to 100 percent, 100 miles per-gallon vehicles (did someone say clean and quiet?).

Denis Drew
Chicago
denis.drew@netzero.com
www.purpleocean.org/blog/80

Posted by: Denis Drew | April 28, 2006 02:53 PM

I have reduced my energy consumption by half and spent thousands on upgrading my water heater and furnace and appliances to energy efficient systems. AND I HAV ONE MORE THING TO SAY: THE CHILDREN MUST BE SACRAFICED IN A SPAWN OF BLOOD AND PLASTIC NOSES E.G MICHAEL JACKSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Bobby Broshue | May 1, 2006 06:40 AM

The debate about how best to continue America's -- or any society's -- dependence upon fossil fuels is like a discussion among heroin addicts about how best to insure a steady supply of dope.

Find a new supplier?
Cut down a little?
Start using another drug on alternate Tuesdays?

Does anyone believe these people are in control of their own fate?

Energy is one of the bases of a society. To become dependent upon a single source is risky. If the source is capital intensive (i.e., requires a lot of money to deliver to users), we invite disaster. Not only is it a bad survival strategy, it ensures power and greed replace common sense.

Anything that is capital intensive puts it in the hands of a small group of people. Their interests rarely include the health of society.

As opposed to free and private enterprise, oligopoly capital wants no competition or freedom to choose. It drives toward control of the market.

I would ask all reasonable readers to consider a world where some entrepreneurs succeed in delivering wind, or solar energy solutions to the market. Some making millions; others not as successful.

A culture built upon energy source choices.

An Oil-based political economy cannot allow for capital-light alternatives. Ownership of the resource and the delivery base equates to immense power. It has nothing to do with American free enterprise. Rather, it is a power play.

We are dealing with another form of organized crime, as it carefully develops dependency upon dope, creating a market for something that has no real value.

Which is why you can be sure Nuclear Energy will be pushed upon us as the "real" alternative for the 21st Century. It is even more capital intensive, ensuring controlled ownership; and a controlling policy, and massive profits into a small number of hands.
DWL

Posted by: Donald Laghezza | May 2, 2006 10:58 AM

For Wash. Post and Every Congressman and senator both Federal and State. I built my home on the Big Island of Hawaii 8 years ago, I installed 8 solar panels and 8 btys with 2 backup generators for long cloudy periods. My energy cost per year run about $2500.00 per year including my 6 cylendar Honda. I don't believe I add to Global Warming or Polute my State. If Industries can trade bad polution credit, I believe Middle Class Citizens such as myself,should be given a Tax Credit every Year. Besides when HECO goes down I just laugh. Vrspy Buzz Baer Kailua Kona Hi.

Posted by: Buzz Baer | May 2, 2006 06:55 PM

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