Monday, May 07, 2007
Gas Price Woes (or Whoa!)
OK, I can understand (kinda) the price of gas going up when we invaded Iraq, or after Katrina struck, but I don't understand the twenty cents per gallon increase over the past two weeks. Is this the best explanation we can can get?
...the recent increases are due mostly to refinery problems.
...One of the nation’s largest refineries, a BP PLC plant in Indiana that processes more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day, will not be operating at full capacity for several months due to unexpected repairs.
...a 470,000 barrels-per-day plant in Texas City operating at less than half capacity. read more...
What? Half-capacity? Why? It seems like whether you have an "emergency" BP Alaska pipeline shutdown like last year; or last years high tensions with the Iranians, or anti-Terrorist activities in Saudi Arabia, or the latest crisis with the Iranians, the routine seems to be to use whatever reason that's handy to justify jacking up oil prices. Of course the price then "drops" to some point higher than it was selling before the latest crisis, and that becomes the benchmark for the next crisis/price increase. Now, with gas having settled in above $3.00 per gallon on average, we really haven't heard much of a peep from the American consumer.
My question is when are we going to call this what it is, price gouging. The excuses given for the increases have become flimsier and flimsier, to where I don't think they're really even trying to fool anyone anymore.
I saw an email a few weeks ago calling for a gas boycott of the two biggest oil companies (Exxon, Chevron?) on May 15th to try and force them to bring their prices down in hopes that the rest of the oil majors will follow suit. That seems like a good idea, but what would be better is to reduce consumption overall by a lot of people not driving for a sustained period of time, say 30 days or more unless absolutely necessary. Kinda like what this guy just did in Louisville, KY.
LEO staff writer Stephen George gave up his car for a month to prove getting around Louisville without your own ride isn't as hard as it seems.
I know, that's real hard to do, but my point is that a 1 day boycott of the largest producers won't influence their price gouging ways, but a sustained reduction of automobile usage by a lot of people likely would help drive prices down and may have an impact on energy policy decisions as well. That might just be worth it, even in a place as sprawled out as Houston. I'm just saying...