The price of gasoline at the pump should reflect all of the true subsized and environmental and social cost of production and combustion. Additionally gas should be taxed proportionally to the cost associated with maintaining the streets and highways that cars and trucks require to drive. The pump cost should be similar to prices in N. Europe, somewhere between $8 - 10 per gallon.
Raising the cost of gasoline may cause the cost of many consumer items to rise in the near term, but in the long term higher gasoline prices will promote mass transit, higher consumption of local procucts, effiency and development of alternative fuels. The sooner we commit to dealing with these issue, the easier they will be to solve.
The Oil Administration, Bush/Cheney/Rice.
And gee, gosh, the Oil markets are acting just like the electricity markets acted under Ken lay.
Nah, just another nightmare.
Just another Republican caused nightmare!
Planning to drill for more oil that won?t be available for seven to ten years isn?t the answer. That said, running the price up to eight to ten bucks a gallon isn?t either. The former is dangerously short sighted, while the latter is elitist at best.
Yes, America loves its cars and should have some way to power them that is better than what we have now, but who is it that suffers when you raise the price? I still see loaded Hummers, Escalades, and Landrovers speeding on the highway... the rich aren?t having problems with it, folks. Want to make the gap between the dwindling hopes to enter the middle class and the wealthy glee at being better off than the rest of us grow? Raise the price then wring your hands at ?gentrification? of working class neighborhoods (actually, the list of ramifications could go on, but I?m about out of time this morning).
And please don?t use Europe as a model without looking at land mass actually covered (only a small fraction of Europe is quite so well connected, the rest get to be peasants tied to their poverty), the population densities of those ?successful? places, their actual other taxes, how many wars they have had in the last century to destroy wasteful older infra-structures, and who it was that paid for them to get rebuilt this last time out (we did).
We need policy that looks ahead, but that considers everyone and treats the poorest fairly.
Any ideas on what this solution might be?
I agree in some respect about Europe but not for the reasons you suggest. Part, and a good part, of the reason Europeans are more environmentally responsible is because the gas has been expensive for so long. The urban planning is entirely different. The land more compact. There also seems to be a sense of frugality in the culture, perhaps due to economic reasons.
Unfortunately, many look at Europeans and draw larger conclusions about the culture then are really there. A good part of the Europeans alleged 'greenness' is based on circumstance. Many commentators and environmentalists try to make the claim that Europeans are great green people---because they care more and are more responsible. This is hard to swallow. As much as I dislike many things American I don't think America became this way because of a personality flaw or some collective bad of the people. Americans are largely victims of circumstance. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try and fix it. I think we just shouldn't be so quick to blame, and then praise others for things that were largely based on a confluence of events.
We have become such a polluting, wasteful society that I welcome high gas prices. Until it is too expensive for landscapers to fuel up their loud and smelly leafblowers, I will consider gas prices too low.
In the last three months I have seen a great increase in bikers, walkers, local shoppers and community interest in local sustainability, i.e. community farming. I attribute this to higher gas prices. I agree with gas prices reflecting the actual price of gas, subsidies, taxes to pay for maintenance. I also think that we can make mass transit work. It seems to me that we are stuck in a mindset that Americans drive long distances each day to get to work. That is untrue. The average American drives less than 5 miles a day that distance if very achievable by mass transit. If we take away the annual gas subsidy of $35 billion a year, we have just paid for mass transit or a good portion of it.
I went to a local private college, majoring in economics. Economically speaking, the gas prices in the United States are set artificially low. Government policy subsidizes gas, instead of taxing it. The current prices do not account for any of the external costs that drivers should be held liable for. These external costs include: air pollution, traffic congestion, sprawl, water pollution, and even isoloating social impacts. You cannot build your way out of congestion. Driving is not a privelage, it is a luxury. Our fuel prices should reflect all real costs of driving. Consumers must feel the pinch at the pump, if we expect anyone to change their driving habits. Perhaps a pay-as-you-go insurance plan at the pump? Those who drive more, and increase risk, pay more. Those who drive less, pay less. The same could apply for fuel prices.
We need to realize that driving costs all of society as a whole more than $3 or $4 dollars per gallon. Prices may be substantially higher, as reflected in European fuel policy.
Please bring this to the attention of your listeners.
I think prices should be higher for exactly the things that are happening now, driving less, using alternative transportation, new technology development, etc. But I wish it would happen more slowly and more steadily. Sudden steep bumps up and down mostly effect the people who can afford it least.
I believe it was last Thursday that NPR Morning Edition had a story that Iraq is signing a deal with China to have China develop the Iraqi Oil fields and sell the Iraqi Oil to China.
Please explain that to the US soldiers who have fought for that Oil for six years and the US taxpayers who are on the hook for some three trillion dollars for the war to get control of that Oil.
Hello and thank you for your show.
Gasoline has been used everywhere in our societies since more than a 150 years. We use it for transportation of people but also for bringing food and consumer goods to us from all over the world. It is also everywhere in plastic and many other chemicals, even in chewing gum !
Gasoline extraction has reached it's peak and it is now costing more and more money to extract it. In parallel to that, in a global economy more and more countries are in need of gas (China, India, etc...) and the demand is rising.
We should start thinking long term instead of short term !!!
In a few decades we will probably have to live without oil, it's a huge challenge facing us...It's time to anticipate changes and move forward...
You broadcasted a great program on the issue on Alternative Radio a few months ago :
Eric John Kaiser
The problem with lowering the price of gas again is that people always seem to go back to "behavior as usual." They talk about "we need to change", but everybody always seems to mean somebody else.
You opened the show talking about Palin; I am stunned at the hypocrisy of her Evangelical supporters and their "situational ethics". Remember how viciously Reagan attacked unwed mothers? Remember how the Conservative Evangelical preachers ranted and railed against "situational ethics and morality"? But now that it's one of their own, all their ethics and morality get overturned and discarded like a cigarette butt.
I have been involved in some local transportation planning processes. When it comes to the question of alternative transportation (even low-tech ways of getting around such as walking!) the process paid only lip service to the supposed requirement that transportation plans other than automobiles are given *at least* the same consideration as car-based solutions.
If people would speak up in their own cities and counties and ask the planners for real non-automobile options. This could begin having a direct effect on our usage within a year, in some cities and counties.
Problem is, politicians at the local level don't want to be saddled with a reputation of being "one of those crazy greens" and so keep planning to make it ever easier to get around by car and harder by bike, walking or mass transportation.
So they act as if there was a local election and the mass transportation candidate lost in a landslide.
The question really comes down to "are people willing to change the way they do things?" As long as the answer is "no" there won't be a change in our usage of oil. It can't be "everyone else's responsibility."
I'd like to see a follow up on the brief report at the top of this morning's show about protests at the Republican Convention.
More specifically, it seems there may be a well planned suppression of (mostly) peaceful protest & dissent at the Convention, some of it apparently pre-emptive and/or intentionally provocative. In many cases, "non-mainstream", independent reporters and people there to document the protests may have been targeted in advance.
Reports on police intimidation & harassment of protesters are coming almost exclusively from the alternative press. There has been almost no coverage by any of the major media, including NPR & OPB -- a search for "protests Republican Convention" on the OPB website results in just one entry, from the AP wire service, out of 60+ items, and it reports only superficially on a few protest actions & some arrests.
For more info, below is an excerpt from an email today from the "United for Peace and Justice" group (www.unitedforpeace.org). Another resource to check is a YouTube video of the (seemingly unprovoked) arrest Monday of Amy Goodman, host of the independent news program "Democracy Now!", and her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, for "conspiracy to riot".
Even if only some of what is being reported is accurate, the actions by police and other security authorities, be they local, regional, or national, not only need to be brought to full public attention & scrutiny, but this is a critically important time to have public discussion about constitutional rights to peacefully assemble & protest and the media's role in fully covering events such as these.
UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE REPORT
From: Leslie Cagan, UFPJ National Coordinator [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 10:58 PM
Subject: Update on Police Presence at RNC!
We are sending you this message because the situation in St. Paul is very grave and we're concerned that the real story is not being told by the mainstream media.
Over the past few days, the heavily armed and extremely large police presence in St. Paul has intimidated, harrassed and provoked people; and, in a number of instances, the police have escalated situations when they used excessive force. They have used pepper spray, including spraying at least one person just inches from her face as she was held down on the ground by several police officers. They have freely swung their extra long night sticks, pushed people around, rode horses and bicycles up against peacefully gathered groups, and surrounded people simply walking down the streets. On Tuesday evening, they used tear gas on a small group of protesters in downtown St. Paul.
... The police raided a convergence center and several locations where people are staying over the weekend and they have stopped and searched vehicles for no clear reason. ...
UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
www.unitedforpeace.org | 212-868-5545
PO Box 607; Times Square Station; New York, NY 10108
I wanted gas to be $5 a gallon 15 years ago (and said so then). If gas prices had been higher all along we would be much further along in alternative energy research and use, AND people would have long ago demanded better, more accessible, and more frequent public transportation. Plus, if gas had cost more I don?t think we would have seen the sprawl into suburbia that has marked the last few decades. Instead we would have been forced to consider ways to increase urban density, while also making urban living more affordable for families. Mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods with accessible services would be demanded if we were forced to rely less on our cars. Maybe if gas had been $5 a gallon all along Americans wouldn?t have convinced themselves in droves that they needed 4000+ square foot houses, or huge SUV's.
Higher gas prices are affecting food costs too, which may be a good thing. Across the board, everyone is feeling the pinch, and generally the costs to consumers are rising. Except less so with local foods. I was at my grocery store the other day and noticed a HUGE price difference between local and non-local products. I was buying flour and saw that Bob?s Red Mill (a local favorite for grains/flour) had their 5 lb organic brand of flour priced at $5.99 while the equivalent non-local product was $9.99. I was shocked! A $4 difference? I was so taken aback by the difference I asked a store employee about it. He said they were seeing huge price differences on local products throughout the store. Finally, the little local companies have a way to stay a leg up on the big guy in their own market.
I also posted about this on a local parent's activism blog I write for:
I would like to know your guests' views of T. Bone Pickens' plan.
From my perspective, there are several issues going on here. First off, I agree with the guest who said that have relatively stable prices is a very good thing. The volatility of the cost of gas has been a big part of the issue.
Second, ultimately the proper approach is to develop alternative energy sources. We currently have the technology to create a robust energy infrastructure that is not so entirely based on fossil fuels. The primary reason that we haven't done this is that fossil fuels have been so cheap. Therefore, it is a good thing, in the long run, to allow fuel costs to stay higher.
Finally, there is the issue of the gas companies. I know that they are the favorite culprits, but there's a reason for that. Currently, price or a barrel of oil is at about the same level it was at in the beginning of April, but the national average price for a gallon of gas is about $0.50 higher. Throughout this energy crisis, while the consumers have been suffering, the oil companies have been consistently record breaking profits, despite the fact that consumer use of gasoline has dropped. Anyone who doesn't see an issue with this isn't paying attention.
It is 40-miles one way to my current employment
Please continue to tell me to drive less and use alternative transport that does not exist, so that you can feel good about having a nonworkable solution.
But how do we get workable alternative transport?
The highways and road improvements being planned right now in Oregon are for the most part promoting easier auto transportation. The only places in the state that have any sort of real transportation not reliant on the automobile are the three biggest urban centers.
If the money spent on alternative transportation in Oregon today were 20% of the money spent on car-focused transportation, these facilities would be here and functional within a few years.
Otherwise, we will always be saying the same thing: We don't have reliable options to the automobile.
I do not see that "alternative transport" is going to be viable within 15 to 20 years and I am currently employed in the field.
Therefore the road improvements should be made so as to improve the flow of traffic and thereby reduce the aggregate fuel use.
Simply put where I live Mass/Alt transport is not going to happen unless the investment reaches 100% and then it will take decades! Perhaps in the various Metro areas public based transport can work, eventually.
One of your guest made two comments. 1. Gasoline prices are driven by the market, and 2. That higher prices are good.
The price of a barrel of oil has not been driven higher by market conditions of supply and demand, it's been driven higher by speculators. OPEC estimates that the cost of a barrel of oil should be around $70/barrel. As far as higher prices being good is concerned, your guest must be well of. Higher gas prices are not good. They increase not only the cost of running a car, but jack up the prices of everything else we have to buy, starting with the price of a gallon of milk. When you work for moderate wages and can't afford to go out and buy a hybrid, you feel the biggest impact of higher gas prices.
My point is that we need to explore all avenues of energy to alleviate the impact of these increases, to include drilling more, nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, hydrogen, etc.. When you're having these discussions, don't forget that a good majority of working people aren't able to give their impressions,...because they're working! Thanks.
What would appropriately priced gas look like? Would it have to include a tax that reflects the external costs? If oil cartels simply raise the price to the equivalent price, would that suffice?
The fact of the matter is that there is a finite amount of oil in the world. At some point, humankind will have to figure out how to survive without consuming oil and other fossil fuels. By gradually raising the price of fossil fuels, we can slowly wean society off of these finite energy sources and transition to a post-oil future. The alternative would be to continue to subsidize fossil fuels until every last drop is gone, and then watch society grind to a halt.
Your speaker was right on when he said the higher prices are actually BETTER.
The high price of gas has driven more innovation and actual change in America's car culture than many years of educated people telling the American people that this change was needed.
Due to these high prices we have seen production lines change, America is making thousands and thousands of more fuel efficient vehicles and has nearly stopped production of SUV's and other gas hogging vehicles. I spoke with a salesman at a local car dealership and they have gone 3 months without selling a large truck.
Americans got very comfortable thinking they needed a HEMI in their truck or SUV as a symbol of monetary status, and now they are being forced to rethink that. People who have sold or stopped using low mileage vehicles have arguably SAVED money by switching to a high MPG vehicle - even with the prices of gas being higher.
It is like listening to drug addicts say, "I won't steal to get my drugs, I'll just trash my house, so it's OK, because I have to have them."
We actually need to get off oil world-wide, not figure out how to make it cheeper.
Michelle Bachman does not know what she is talking about. She said most of the US oil is off-limits due to environmental protection. Actually, 80% of off-shore oil is available for leasing, and over 95% of on-shore oil on federal lands is open to exploration.
"Michelle Bachman does not know what she is talking about".
But I notice that she has the broadcast microphone and can prevaricate unchallenged, while your honest rebuttal will only be read by a very few. I hate to say it but she's a typical "lying in lockstep" Republican.
To view maps of the areas under lease or available to oil companies for leasing, see http://www.sierraclub.org/bigoil/map.asp The maps are based on 2008 data from the Dept of Interior's Mineral Mgmt. Svc.
Just when we need to burn less Oil to stop Global Warming, the Republicans want to drill more and burn more, they are Global Warming Holocaust Deniers.
Bush admitted that the US has an Oil Addiction but Republicans want to keep us Addicted.
With the current usage of oil the world will run out of usable supplies in 20-30 years. If prices are kept low it will be quicker. Prices need to reflect the precious resource it is.
I think one of the problems with the "cheap oil will make us use more oil" versus "Americans were already pretty stretched" debate is mostly a matter of class. For an independent farmer with slim profit margins, driving an old pickup that he can't afford to replace, $4 gas is devastating. For an upper-middle class person who drives a hummer because they can afford to, $4 gas encourages getting a smaller car and better driving habbits.
The only way to balance this is to have cheap gas, but have an inefficiency tax on vehicles sold to individuals (not to businesses - construction firms need trucks, after all).
We need to have a higher tax or higher price on gas above a certain base amount. So, people who buy SUVs and other such vehicles that use more of our resources--should pay extra for that use vs. those who choose vehicles which are more responsible.
Addressing the energy and climate issues will likely involve making fossil fuels more expensive and alternatives more competitive. During that transition, I would support some relief in the form of fuel credits to low income people and vital industries like transit and farming. In my mind, it's worth it for the longer-term goal.
No one has talked about how the Republicans are all bought out by big oil companies! So, how can we drill responsibly when the oil companies have bought out the government. Do we really want a mess in our backyard -- when instead we can move toward the future and invest in Science to finally get us out of this mess.... Oil is a natural resource and will eventually be over -- do we want to deplete this resources within our lifetime or our childrens? Not wise....
I like the idea of saving the ANWR reserve in Alaska for our grandchildren.
Why burn it up now at 15-20 miles a gallon, when in 40 years we could be using it at 100 miles a gallon as oil reserves are diminishing around the world?
Let's save it for when we really need it. We cannot ever expect low gasoline prices again.
I would like to correct some misinformation from one of the earlier participants. Oregon does not have any oil refineries; gasoline and diesel purchased in Oregon comes from refineries in the Seattle area and the San Francisco Bay Area, and is transported to Oregon via pipeline (from Seattle) or ship (from California). There are two locations for terminals (facilities that store gasoline/diesel and load trucks) one in Portland (Willbridge/Linnton) the other in Eugene. So, gasoline in Medford or Bend or K Falls has to be trucked a long way. All of these add to the cost of gasoline in Oregon.
So, some might ask, why is gasoline so much more expensive in California? Because CA has a special blend of gasoline that is designed to fight its smog problem. This is both more expensive to manufacture and makes it so supply is more limited - refineries producing gasoline for outside of California cannot send gasoline to California to help with supply issues.
I also want to address another wrong statement that was made, that the tax incdience of the gas tax only falls on the oil companies. In plain language, the claim that was made is that any increase or decrease in the gas tax would be felt by the oil companies, not consumers. This is just as false as people saying that consumers pay the entire gas tax. The gax tax is split between consumers and producers. The split is determined by what economists call the "elasticity of demand." I'm not the best person to explain it, but the gist of it is that an increase in the gasoline tax will result in consumers paying part and oil companies paying part.
I'd like to make an elementary but true observation that was not made on your program and has not been part of the national discussion in the campaigns: if we sell leases to drill offshore to Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum, even if the oil were to come online tomorrow it will not be sold in Bend, OR, or Chillicothe, OH. It will be sold on the world market to the highest bidder, perhaps China or Europe, where consumers are paying about $10/gal for gas instead of $4.00. I have no idea what percentage of total worldwide oil consumption the offshore leases might represent, but if we arbitrarily assume they might yield 1% of it in ten years and worldwide consumption rises 5% in that period then the price of gas in Bend will still rise and not fall. And, in the meantime, we will have despoiled our coasts and negatively affected the tourist industry in California, Florida, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, etc. Exxon Mobil will reap a windfall and the average citizen will be worse off.
RE: Industrial uses. It is time start somewhere and to get practical. Do we really NEED disposable plastic bags, food and drink containers, dry cleaning covers and all of the other assorted and excessive plastic packaging? Can we live reasonably comfortably without these items? I think the answer is yes. It requires changing habits but would not be particularly painful.
Plastics use petroleum as their base source and for manufacturing energy. Disposal of this trash is also an issue. The return to glass containers, reusable bags, and less packaging would raise howls of job loss, increased breakage, increased cost of shipping because of increased weight, and loss of product due to theft or lack of containment.
The changes would create different jobs and perhaps, even some innovation. The millions of barrels of oil not used for disposable plastics could be diverted for more effective or strategic uses.
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