Thu Feb 23, 2012, 03:11 PM
pinto (106,005 posts)
What to do about $4 gas (LA Times editorial)
What this editorial overlooks, imo, is the effect of gas prices on commodity prices. Anything hauled by truck to market usually costs more to offset increases in transport costs. Otherwise a good overview on personal choices, and the political tug-of-wars, in relation to gas costs.
What to do about $4 gas
Whatever the cause of high prices, the good news is that Americans have more opportunities to wean themselves from the gas pump with every passing year.
February 23, 2012
Angelenos don't get many opportunities to grouse about the weather, so in this town our preferred topic of complainversation is gasoline prices. Lately, we've had a wealth of material.
Prices at the pump have been rising for the last five weeks, hitting an average in California of $4.035 for a gallon of regular on Monday, a 5.2% jump over the previous week. This is more than just an inconvenience: If the spike continues, it could derail the nation's economic recovery. It is also giving rise, as such things always do, to conspiracy theories by people of all political persuasions — most of which aren't worth the carbon dioxide emitted in their utterance.
On the right, it's popular to blame President Obama. His "green" energy policies, according to this theory, are the reason it's costing $80 a pop to fill the tanks of our Ford Explorers; if he would only drill, baby, drill in more places, we could restore America's God-given right to cheap gas. The fact that this makes no sense hardly slows the chatter on talk radio or the rhetoric from GOP presidential candidates such as Rick Santorum, who repeated this canard Monday. The complaints are enough to make one wonder whom Republicans blamed when similar price spikes happened during the presidency of former oil executiveGeorge W. Bush. In any case, it takes decades from the time a new oil permit is approved before a field is producing reliable amounts of oil, meaning that even if the wildest dreams of oil executives to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other protected places were granted today, it wouldn't have a noticeable impact on gas prices until around 2030.
The left has its own political talking points. Some on the fringes even believe rising prices are part of a right-wing conspiracy to slow the economic recovery and thus hurt Obama's reelection chances. Congressional Democrats don't go quite that far, but they regularly call for probes into price-fixing by the oil giants, although no evidence of this practice has emerged. There are myriad variables involved in the setting of market prices for gas: the price of crude oil, which shifts according to such factors as supply and demand, market disruption or feared disruptions, and speculation by commodity traders; shutdowns of U.S. refineries for routine maintenance; switches in gasoline formulas from winter to more expensive summer blends; and so on. It strains credulity to believe that all of the players involved in this process are conspiring without a hint of the secret leaking out.
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What to do about $4 gas (LA Times editorial) (Original post)
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