The case for higher gasoline prices

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For those of us who live in the United States, the prices at the gasoline pump haven’t been so low since 2009, about $2.50 per U.S. gallon as of January 5 in the New England area.  It sure comes as a relief, but of course, our good fortune won’t last very long and maybe it shouldn’t.  Here’s the thing: we, yes, you too, WE are way too dependent on fossil fuels.  As a nation, we drill and frack the earth with such ferocious greed and disrespect for our natural and finite resources that it’s a wonder there’s anything left. The irony here is that all this voracious plundering of the earth has produced a market in the U.S. where there is more supply than demand which has helped to drive OPEC prices down.  But rather than cutting back supplies, OPEC is all in with hopes that declining oil prices will stop the U.S. from continuing to explore alternatives.  The end game for OPEC is to restore its monopoly, so that it can hike the price of oil back up and make more profits.  The end game for the U.S. is to make the big oil companies even more profitable than they already are.  And we consumers are the pawns in the game.

As a person concerned about the environment and how we leave it to future generations, I advocate for a sound and responsible energy policy that does not include fracking and that ridiculous X-L pipeline. And unless the U.S. and other like minded nations ramp up investments into sustainable clean energy sources, we will forever be dependent on fossil fuels, our own or OPEC’s.  In some ways, a world with higher fuel prices is preferable because it encourages people to consume responsibly, to walk and bike more, take public transportation and carpool.  It encourages hybrid technology and the use of clean electric, solar and wind power.

As is, with prices at the pump on the decline, automakers are producing and selling more SUV’s and pickup trucks and other gas guzzling models.  Come on people.  Show some respect for mother nature. Consume less and appreciate nature more.  Do your part.

Clean Energy? Obama’s Carnegie Mellon Talk

In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University, President Obama warned of the dangers of our oil addiction and made the case for clean energy, but he did so without mentioning some of the cleanest and safest energy of all, renewable solar and wind power.  Instead of condemning offshore drilling all together, he suggested that it should continue to be part of the equation at least temporarily as we shift to safer, cleaner energy.  But shift to what?  According to Obama, “it means tapping into our natural gas reserves” .  I’m a little suspicious of the word tap.  Sounds like more drilling to me.  Isn’t natural gas a fossil fuel? Aren’t we addicted to fossil fuels?  It’s like taking methadone to kick heroin or oxycontin to treat pain, both “remedies” are highly addictive.  And what happens when the tap runs dry.  Unless we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels considerably, the nation is in for a serious case of the DTs.

The other “clean” energy the President mentioned is nuclear.  If an offshore drilling rig can blowup due to human error, what about a nuclear power plant.  Remember Chernoybl and Three-Mile Island?  Pretty messy. I have this image of Homer Simpson at the controls.  Not only is nuclear power a potentially dangerous pursuit, it’s an expensive one.  Plants cost billions to build and very few, perhaps fewer than 2% have ever been built on time and on budget.

I agreed with some of his plans, such as “putting a price on carbon pollution” and requiring cars and trucks to be more energy efficient.  He didn’t say how efficient, but I say bring the standard up to 55 mpg.  Nor did he say anything about a speed limit.  I’d say bring it down to 55 mph, and save some lives in the process.  He mentioned investing in technology to help the U.S. be a lead player in hybrid battery production, which is not a bad idea, but let’s sell some electric cars too – it’s time to get the “Government Motors” Chevy Volt on the road.

In the wake of the BP oil disaster which may have irreparably damaged the Gulf Coast economy and environment , I expected the President to make a better case for clean, safe and renewable energy.  I also expected that he would blast big oil and demand a moratorium on deep offshore drilling and somehow link clean energy to clean up.  Let’s replace “drill baby drill’ with “clean baby clean” or “clean up baby clean” or “clean baby green”…or something.