Political bluster no way to handle a fuel crisis

Tue, 05/09/2006 - 3:56pm
By: The Citizen


You don’t have to have your ear to the tracks to hear the hullabaloo blaming “big oil” and Americans’ “addiction” to foreign oil for alarmingly high energy prices. Once again, snake-oil salesmen are out-shouting reasoned discussions about three-dollar gas.

The clamor from Capitol Hill is one example. Capitalism has become a dirty word. Congressional leaders from both sides are demanding investigations of oil companies for “price-fixing,” “price-gouging” and “windfall” profits.

In response, President Bush ordered an investigation into gouging, urged an end to tax breaks for oil companies and suspended deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through the fall. Suspending deposits will keep about 25,000 barrels more a day on the summer market, according to Bloomberg News - a drop in the ocean considering U.S. petroleum consumption averaged 20.7 million barrels a day in 2004.

A waiver of boutique-fuel requirements the president also authorized could bring some temporary price relief again this year to the 45-county metro Atlanta region. The ozone-reducing blend is required under federal clean-air rules from June 1 through Sept. 15. May 1 through Oct. 31 is ozone forecasting season for metro Atlanta; the hot summers, high humidity and tree cover that draw more people here also make smog in metro Atlanta as perennial as its sprawl castigation.

Washington’s steps, along with proposals for boycotts, renewables and rebates, are no solution. There is no big oil “collusion;” the crude oil price is universal.

It was 54.8 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline in March and rising in response to supply concerns amid geopolitical tensions in oil-producing countries. Federal and state taxes account for about 24 percent of the price; Georgians pay local taxes as well.

This nation is competing for fuel globally, but current fuel shortages have as much to do with “peak” oil - the belief that we’ve reached the point at which oil extraction and processing can no longer meet world oil demand - as humans and fossil fuel use have to do with global warming, which is nothing. We haven’t even begun to reach the limits of technology, exploration and extraction.

American complacency certainly aggravates shortages. Yes, environmental regulators remain inflexible on regional boutique blend requirements. But it’s no longer an emergency when supplies are short every summer; it’s an expectation. Last year Congress mandated ethanol use in gasoline, even though facilities and supplies are insufficient; the oxygenate must be trucked, not piped, to destinations, and massive subsidies and tariffs are needed to make ethanol “competitive.”

Vehicle miles traveled have increased 149 percent since 1970, yet the last refinery built came on line in 1976. Refineries have not completely recovered from Katrina. Heightening nervousness about supplies, forecasters estimate we’re just one-third through a 30-year cycle of intensified hurricane activity.

If only Americans would use public transit at the same rate as Europeans, this country could cut its reliance on foreign fuel by 40 percent, says the American Public Transportation Association.

Even high-density Europe is no transit nirvana: More than 83 percent of travel is by passenger car or motorcycle in the 25-nation European Union, with about 9 percent bus; 6.5 percent railroad and 1.4 percent tram. In this country, 88 percent travel by car or motorcycle; 4.7 percent use public transportation.

Transit is also cheaper, says the Center for Transportation Excellence, which puts the annual cost of driving a single-occupant vehicle at between $4,826 and $9,685, while the annual average cost for public transportation for one adult ranges from $200 to $2,000, depending upon the service. No mention, of course, that an auto owner has a personal responsibility to pay for that car, while everyone must subsidize the transit rider’s ticket.

The Center for Transportation Excellence reports that public transportation saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline a year. If a motorist averaging 15,000 miles a year gets 25 miles per gallon in a midsize car, that’s the equivalent of taking 1.425 million cars off the road.

But are buses and trains filled with transit riders who left a car at home? A national survey found 44 percent of bus and rail passengers combined (49 percent of bus and 39 percent of rail passengers) were from households without cars, while another 33 percent were from a one-car household.

Lost in the hysteria are long-term solutions that can ease the need for foreign fuels. It requires facing down activists who hinder nuclear power generation - the safest, cheapest, cleanest energy source available. It requires building new facilities and exploitation of domestic resources.

Forward-thinking Georgia legislators, realizing that expanding domestic supply reduces the global influence, this year urged the federal government to open up promising off-shore fields for exploration and called for expanded use of nuclear power.

But snake oil remains the prescription as long as Congress blames big oil and Americans buy the bluster.

Benita M. Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians.

© Georgia Public Policy Foundation

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Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 8:03pm.

Faith-based science rears its ugly head once again in the pages of The Citizen, this time from the smug pronouncements of conservative public relations flak Benita Dodd.

She attempts to slip in the Bush Administration meme of fossil fuels having nothing whatsoever to do with global warming.

The vast majority of scientists will tell you otherwise.

The EPA itself says 98% of carbon dioxide emissions are due to humans and human related activities contribute to the greenhouse gasses which are the prime cause of global warming.

Get Real's picture
Submitted by Get Real on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 8:12pm.

Did you hear that on Air America or what crap are you reading. Al Gore's talking points? Volcanoes and other natural sources account for over 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions and it is believed that they may account for up to 95%. How much carbon dioxide do you produce? Good grief...don't trees thrive on carbon dioxide? Think of it as plant food. Go sit in the corner behave yourself.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 8:42pm.

Tell ya what, my Reich-wing friend, read the EPA's own analysis of global warming at http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/Climate.html and then get back to me with more of your regurgitated Faux News talking points.

All Smiles's picture
Submitted by All Smiles on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 5:14am.

You should be ashamed of your picture! There are many things I don't like about President Bush, but this picture is out of line. VERY POOR TASTE!!

Submitted by fran sheldon on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 7:28am.

I must agree, Basmati, that your use of the image of Adolf Hitler next to our twice-elected President is horrible. Have you considered how our friends of Jewish descent feel ? Obviously not. My husband served with GI's who saw the concentration camps. This is the type of hateful discourse that is a bad by-product of free speech. You may not like Mr. Bush. You can vote against him. I did not particularly agree with Mr. Roosevelt but I respected him as my President.

You should be ashamed to do something so hurtful.

Mrs. Fran Sheldon

PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 8:28pm.

That is a misleading statement on scientists, basmati. Completely.

Get your facts straight:
1. Yes, humans generate tons of CO2. Always have. And plants thrive on CO2.
2. We are in a cycle of NORMAL warming due the Solar Cycle. About at its peak, meaning it will begin receding.
3. The hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, not expanding.
4. The biggest damage is coming from deforestation of the Equatorial Belt. That is where the CO2 is mainly processed back into clean air. But it is being lost.
5. As pointed out by Get Real, volcanic activity and such dumps millions of metric tons into the air. And volcanic activity has been increasing for decades.

As always, blame it on Christians. We seem to be responsible for every ill the secularists won't own up to.

I am all for alternative fuel research. I am all for the cleanest fuels possible.

But these Global Warming false accusations is neither accurate or helpful.

Fact is alternatives have been being researched for decades. To no success.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 8:57pm.

Global warming exists, your bleatings to the contrary notwithstanding.

Humans excaberate the global warming situation.

As far as your specious claim that "volcanic activity has been increasing for decades", the Global Volcanism Project says that's simply not true. What has increased is the number of REPORTED eruptions, and that is due to the increase in human population in remote areas where eruptions went previously unreported.

Unlike you, I always provide a link to back up my claims. Take a look at http://www.volcano.si.edu/faq/index.cfm?faq=06 and then be a good "Christian" and apologize to your God for bearing false witness.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 6:38am.

I confess that I just don't *know* what to think about the extent to which human activities contribute to global warming, nor do I know what to think about whether there is a genuine "crisis" at hand. Bill McKibben sounded the alarm back in the late 80s in THE END OF NATURE. But he also observed there that rice paddies (our source for basmati), termites, and cow farts contribute to the problem.

Whether global warming *matters* is a worldview issue. Whether humans have environmental duties is also a worldview issue. But whether global warming is significantly due to anthropogenic factors
is an *empirical* issue that, so far as I can tell, has no bearing whatsoever on worldview issues. What one believes about global warming and the human factor is independent of one's metaphysics. Unlike the beer sold at the convenient store, it is possible to mix and match.

At least, so it would seem.

But I'm not sure this is the case with our friend, basmati, here. With him, I suspect it's all a part of a package. He's like a photographic negative of Rush Limbaugh. Also in this pilaf that he serves up is an intense hatred for Bush and the "Reich wing" and an arrogant contempt for Christians.


"Every time I'm in Georgia I eat a peach for peace."
--Duane Allman

PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:03am.

Yep. He is pushing an anti-Christian agenda. The environment was a poorly chosen cloak to hide his real intentions.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 9:51pm.

First, learn the basics of polite conversation. Your skills are non-existant.

Second, I did not say there is no warming. In fact I stated we are in a hotter point in the Solar Cycle and that deforestation is damaging to the planet.

Third, I did say humans impact and always have. Want to see impact, do a study on human impact burng wood as fuel in the Middle Ages. Makes today look like nothing.

Your blatant hatred of Christians is obvious. And that is your problem.

Here is the actual quote. It does not say dogmatically reports are increasing, it says they believe that is the reason.

A look at the number of volcanoes active per year, over the last few centuries, shows a dramatic increase, but one that is closely related to increases in the world's human population and communication. We believe that this represents an increased reporting of eruptions, rather than increased frequency of global volcanism: more observers, in wider geographic distribution, with better communication, and broader publication.

So, they are speculating an answer. Not stating that is the answer. And not all scientist agree with that assessment at all.

But, it is a fact that volcanic activity has a huge impact on weather and climate. And if you have done any study at all you know that.


Instead of seeking ways to attack Christians, learn what you are talking about before you spout off.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

Get Real's picture
Submitted by Get Real on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 6:03am.

I want PTC Guy on my side. Man, you are good and have great skills in keeping a cool head when dealing with Morons. You are truly an asset to this site.


PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:05am.


My sig line says it all. If you stay there you stay right.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 7:15am.

Get Real would make an excellent charter member of the Peachtree City Taliban.

He goosesteps around these boards, smugly contending that HIS pecular brand of jingoistic patriotism and religious values are somehow superior to the rest of us mere mortals.

He professes to love Jesus, but from his writings we can plainly see that his true Lord and Savior is George W. Bush. Kneel to your true God, Get Real!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 7:36am.

This is just what I meant above. Basmati's vitriolic comments betray his knee-jerk, party-line thinking. He is in a blind rage and is thus incapable of sorting out the finer, subtler issues.

Unable to stand her ground in honest rational debate, Cynthia McKinney has a propensity to pull the race card--which she always keeps just next to her gender card.

People like basmati tend instead to pull the Nazi card. Get Real "goose steps" around and would establish Sharia law in Peachtree City given the opportunity. The icon itself is calculated to insult and offend. The strategy works: it does both. It also speaks volumes about its originator.


"Every time I'm in Georgia I eat a peach for peace."
--Duane Allman

PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:10am.

The Nazi Card is a cheap, false argument.

Just remember that Hitler killed millions of Christians as well as Jews. His Eastern Mysticism had nothing but total hatred of Biblical Christianity.

And under Sharia Law being Christian is a death penalty.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

Get Real's picture
Submitted by Get Real on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 7:35am.

Hey Nazi Rice Boy. You ain't from around here are you. Where you at boy? New York City? Come on down our way so we can share a little home cookin with ya.

You are really whacked out. Son you ain't never heard me mention no religion. And you comparing Bush and your brother there just don't make no sense at'all. Like you and your brother you both be hatin religion and true freedoms and you both want govment control on all commerce and you would like to assign us each out daily tasks and make us yo behavin peoples.

When a goose steps does he waddle? I'll have to try that. I'z be one that does not support ole Bush. I held my noze and voted fo him a couple of times because he was not quite the facist /socialist types ole Gore and Kerry was. I don't no what you be complainin bout since he's give you left wing commie pinko's all you been axin fo. But I hands it to you school boy. I do's has to hit them library books and look up jingoistic. Youz gots me there. It might rightly well describe me. I'll check into dat.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:01am.

You aren't the religious extremist, Get Real, that should have been directed to the morally superior PTC Guy. For that, and that alone, I apologize.

It's getting hard to keep to keep track of all you right wingnuts around here without a scorecard!

Get Real's picture
Submitted by Get Real on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:50am.

Coming from you Bassomatic I will accept the title "Right Wingnut" amd wear it as a badge of honor. Thank you my hateful Christian basher for dubbing me with such distinction. I am truly a Right Wing Conservative Protectionist, Traditional Family Values, All American Baseball Lovin & Apple Pie Eatin, Fourth of July Celebratin, Christmas - Easter - Thanksgiving Lovin, Law Enforcement Supportin, Washington - Jefferson- Hamilton - Franklin Lovin Wingnut. I am all it stands for. I love John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. I hate hollywood and am a fan of Mel Gibson. I think queers are sick and truly need our compassion and help. And environmentalist whacko's couldn't care less about the environment and that if you could kill me off for my thoughts....you would do it. Thank you sir for the title.

PTC Guy's picture
Submitted by PTC Guy on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 8:16am.

To one with no respect for God, meaning you, everyone who actually believes in something is an extremist.

Really, that worn out old diatribe is boring. Nazi's hated Christians, so your ignorance on the issue is very telling.

Keeping it real and to the core of the issue, not the peripherals.

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