Thoughts on Gas Prices

Gas prices are over $3.00 a gallon in the US. But of course everyone in the blogosphere (or anyone with a car) already knows that. (Although before I get into some discussion here, I would like to point out that the gas station near my house up here in Vancouver, BC is at $4.09USD per gallon [that is after converting from litres and from the, fairly strong, Canadian dollar], yes, that’s right, over $4.00!) There are two things I would like to discuss here. First is an article from called Going a Short Way to Make a Point. Second is an interesting suggestion for lowering gas prices.

Hypercubed linked to a article that discusses some of the hypocrisy happening in Washington (DC that is) in both parties.

“Since George Bush and Dick Cheney took over as president and vice president, gas prices have doubled!” charged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), standing at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill where regular unleaded hit $3.10. “They are too cozy with the oil industry.”

She then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) — even though her Senate office was only a block away.

My impression is that gas prices have very little to do with how “cozy” the government is with oil companies and more to do with the large oil companies greed. Yes, they could be taxed more, that could help, but the fact that the oil companies want more money and the fact that people in the US love their cars equate to high gas prices.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) used a Hyundai Elantra to take the one-block journey to and from the gas-station news conference. He posed in front of the fuel prices and gave them a thumbs-down. “Get tough on big oil!” he demanded of the Bush administration.

Yeah, thanks. How are we supposed to take our law-makers seriously when they are all talk (not only that, but the talk seems to be of the ad hominem “Bush’s fault” sort)? Here are just a few of the cars driven by our representatives:

Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) hopped in a GMC Yukon (14 mpg). Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) climbed aboard a Nissan Pathfinder (15). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) stepped into an eight-cylinder Ford Explorer (14). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) disappeared into a Lincoln Town Car (17). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) met up with an idling Chrysler minivan (18).

Such fuel efficient cars they have! And one of the most blatant hypocrytical statements comes from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) who has a Ford Explorer XLT and complained that Bush:

remains opposed to higher fuel-efficiency standards.

Ok… so, even if that is true, how are we to believe that he isn’t opposed to higher fuel-efficiency standards?

I personally think the hypocrisy extends much farther than our politicans. In this case it seems that our representatives actually represent much of the sentiment and lifestyle of many Americans. We love to complain about gas prices and yet still continue to drive giant vehicles that are horrible gas guzzlers. I have been driving a lot lately so I really shouldn’t be complaining because it is my choice to do that driving (although, thankfully my car gets over 30mpg) - but of course I am being hypocrytical here because I do still complain, believe me, I know I am no better than anyone else I am talking about here.

My point is this: in order for things to change two things need to happen: 1) we need to be able to beleive that our law-makers are serious about making change and actually walking the walk and 2) US citizens need to stop complaining, stop blaming the scapegoat, and actually do something to initiate change. This leads to my second discussion point. I hope you are still reading.

Sally forwarded an email offering a suggestion to help lower gas prices. It looked fairly interesting. I have no idea if it can actually work, but it is something anyway. It is important to understand that the one day “don’t buy gas on a certain day” does not work at all. It is like putting a band-aid on … I don’t know… something really bloody… and large… We need to look at the systemic issue and not just the surface. Possible solutions are to simply drive less, use more fuel efficient vehicles, or just don’t drive at all. If enough people do that, things would have to change. The other means of attack would be aimed at the oil companies. Of course, anything effective could not be anything like the one day protest. Apparently the email/idea was originally sent by a retired Coca Cola executive and came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton (this, of course, cannot be confirmed). Snopes reports that this does not work, but I think it is worth a try.

Here is the idea (from the email):

For the rest of this year, DON’T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

Simple, eh? Note: in Canada, don’t use Esso gas as that is an Exxon company.

Now what? Well this doesn’t really work if just a few people do it. Pass this around. Copy what I said, trackback, whatever, just do it. If you want the email that is being passed around, I will send it to you. Snopes suggests that the only way to lower prices is to reduce how much we buy. I think this is completely valid: buy better vehicles, buy less gas - this is always good advice. That being said, when we do buy gas, buying it from non-Exxon companies seems to make sense. What do you folks think about this?

Gasbuddy: current gas prices all around the country. - Going a Short Way to Make a Point
ExxonMobile Corporate
Wikipedia - ExxonMobil: info on the company (largest publicly traded company in the world, 6th largest overall (in 2000))
Snopes - Urban Legends Reference Pages - Gas Out

  1. May 3rd, 2006 at 22:34 | #1

    I’ve been hearing a lot of complaining about gas prices but but I don’t see anybody changing their habits. Yesterday, I pulled into a Taco Bell and parked in the parking lot (I always park because I hate drive throughs). I walked into the empty restaurant, ordered my food, got my food, and left before a single SUV pull out from the drive through (yes, I live in California, they were all SUVs, approximately 7 of them). If gas prices are so bad then why are they waisting gas idling in a drive through? All so you don’t have to get out of your car? If that is the case then laws of supply and demand say that gas prices should increase further (knock on wood).

  2. May 4th, 2006 at 01:00 | #2

    Indeed. Supply and demand is what drives the prices, not “cozy” relationships between oil companies and the government, not the war in Iraq. Supply and demand (and greed of oil companies to be sure) will warrant the rise. Until people change habits the warrant will remain.

    I hate the H2 and cringe when I see that POS, but I still laugh cause I know they have to pay a crap load at the pump.

  3. May 4th, 2006 at 12:58 | #3

    Americans, repent of your gas-guzzling ways and turn to green energy!

  4. May 5th, 2006 at 00:44 | #4

    i am just glad that i live in a city where public transportation is pretty convenient. i still drive to some places, but it’s because that is even MORE convenient… and sometimes the bus isn’t all that cost-effective.

  5. May 6th, 2006 at 19:53 | #5

    (by the way, I’m hear via BlogMad)

    Good post even thought it won’t work :(

    Via Snopes:

    Claim Participating in 1-day boycott of gasoline in May 2006 will “take money out of the oil companies’ pockets” and help bring down the price of gasoline.

    [EDIT BY M.JONES: The quotes from Snopes were not relevant to this post so have been deleted (the quotes can be found here). The Snopes article that does relate is linked to in the post]

    i’m sorry because it really does suck and it would be great if it DID work.

  6. May 6th, 2006 at 20:25 | #6

    Hi, thanks for stopping by Rebekah. I have truncated your post (the Snopes information) for two reasons: 1) I linked to the relevant snopes report in my post and 2) the information you posted relates to a gas boycot (the “one day gas-out” as it were) which is not what I was writing about.

    The relevant snopes article that I linked to does suggest why not purchasing gas from ExxonMobil will probably not work, however I think it is better than nothing (and far better than the one day boycot).

    As I explicity stated, I think there is no chance at all that the one day gas boycotts will work.

  7. May 11th, 2006 at 06:37 | #7

    A couple of things about this whole thing -

    If you don’t buy from Exxon Mobil, which is American-owned and benefits American stockholders (including several in our church, although regrettably not me) and consequently our overall economy, who are you going to buy from? Citgo, for example, is owned by the nation of Venezuela, headed by Hugo Chavez, who is decidedly anti-American and socialist. If you’re not going to buy from a particular company, it behooves you to research the other options thoroughly to make sure they are really better options.

    According to the US Dept of Energy, the breakdown for a gallon of gas is this:

    60% - Crude oil
    20% - Taxes
    12% - Refining
    8% - Distribution and Marketing

    Exxon Mobil is making less than 10 cents per gallon. The Federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. Louisiana hits you for 20 cents per gallon. The oil companies are not really the enemy here. It’s true that they are making record profits compared to other years – for example, before Katrina reduced supply by shutting down several refineries (that are STILL shut down, Gulf of Mexico production is down about 20% which is contributing to high prices, along with increased demand from China and India), but compared to other industries, they are not. They have an obligation to their stockholders to make a profit; they’re not doing anything illegal or immoral, and in the years they make less profit it’s not like anybody wants to give them a subsidy. I think giving the CEO a $400 million bonus is fairly obscene, but that’s between the company and the stockholders. If I were a stockholder, I’d be *screaming* about it, and maybe they are, but in the end it’s not the business of outsiders to determine company payroll decisions.

    Additionally, it’s market driven, not price fixing. If it were price fixing, believe me, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean would be all over this like white on rice. Oil companies, on average, profit about 8 cents on the dollar. Banks, on average, profit about 20 cents per dollar. Software and services are about 17 cents, telecommunication is about 10 cents. If you want to affect the market, the solution is to make gas a less valuable commodity – to reduce overall demand by using less. Driving less, carpooling, and buying a hybrid are some ways to reduce gasoline demand and bring prices down. Just my .02 cents…

  8. May 11th, 2006 at 13:10 | #8

    Pretty good $.02 there Laura. Goes to show how complex this issue is. Simply boycotting one company doesn’t say anything about which company to use. And as you suggest a “simple” boycot isn’t always as simple as we want it to be.

    I definitely agree that moderation and cutting back on our use of oil is truly the only thing that will get much done. At the same time I have to wonder if there are other US companies (or foreign countries that support the US) that we could purchase from other than ExxonMobil.

    Thanks for your thoughts, they are definitely something to mull over!

  1. June 16th, 2006 at 14:35 | #1
  2. May 8th, 2006 at 02:56 | #2

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