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The Specter of Gasoline At $5 a Gallon

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the petroleum-human-engineering dept.

Transportation 1205

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that gas prices are already at record highs for the winter months — averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally. As summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon. But gas prices could rise another 50 cents a gallon or more, analysts say, if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict or there is some other major supply disruption. 'If we get some kind of explosion — like an Israeli attack or some local Iranian revolutionary guard decides to take matters in his own hands and attacks a tanker — than we'd see oil prices push up 20 to 25 percent higher and another 50 cents a gallon at the pump,' says Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research. A sharp rise in the prices of oil and gas would crimp the nation's budding economic recovery would cause big political problems at home for President Obama, who is already being attacked by Republican presidential candidates over gas prices and his overall energy policies. On the other hand, environmentalists see high gas prices as a helpful step toward the development of alternative energy. Secretary Treasury Steven Chu notably said in 2008 'we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe' to make Americans trade in their 'love affair with the automobile' for a marriage to mass transit. In the meantime President Obama is in a bind because any success in tightening sanctions on Iran could squeeze global oil supplies, pushing up prices and causing serious economic repercussions at home and abroad."

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Welcome to our world (5, Informative)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207503)

we already top that in the UK:(

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207561)

I was going to say - if I only payed $5.00 a gallon I'd throw a party. Right around $8.50 (give or take based on the exchange rate) a gallon is what I consider normal. Between this and the Americans I heard complaining yesterday that the Raspberry Pi boards didn't look to be available in the US -- I have to say that it comes across as petty whinging to the rest of the world.

Re:Welcome to our world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207619)

Yes, because no one from the UK has ever complained about something petty on the internet. And anyone who complains about something petty on the internet definitely represents their entire country in doing so.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207761)

I was going to say - if I only payed $5.00 a gallon I'd throw a party. Right around $8.50 (give or take based on the exchange rate) a gallon is what I consider normal.

I assume you realize that your high gas prices are the result of high taxation and not natural market forces. You live in a democracy, right? Maybe you should do something about your own high gas prices rather than criticizing those of us that do. Unless, of course, you like paying more, then good for you. Stop berating those of us who like to pay less.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Interesting)

Benji Minoskovich (1266090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207857)

I agree. Voters and governments in Europe have made the choice to tax themselves up the wazoo on fuel. It's more tolerable there given their denser population, better public transit and "leaner" lifestyles. But the spot price of gasoline at the port in Rotterdam is almost exactly the same as it is in New York Harbor or the Gulf Coast. Europeans don't have to pay $8/gallon. Unrelated: It's also interesting to note that after years of $8 fuel in Europe, they have adapted with small diesels. There is little to no sign of the renewable fuels you hear being pitched by politicians on both sides of the pond.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Interesting)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207797)

There is a difference of scale.

How far do you in the U.K. drive in an average work day?

Here in the states, some days I drive 400+ (~640km) miles, especially when prospecting for new clients. Even when not prospecting the distance is around 100 miles per day (~160km) because I live in a rural suburb.

Any differences in price of gasoline (petrol :) might be partially accounted for by sales volume.

The United States is a big frikkin' place.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207859)

I was going to say - if I only payed $5.00 a gallon I'd throw a party. Right around $8.50 (give or take based on the exchange rate) a gallon is what I consider normal. Between this and the Americans I heard complaining yesterday that the Raspberry Pi boards didn't look to be available in the US -- I have to say that it comes across as petty whinging to the rest of the world.

The rest of the world can go pound sand then, because the reason you have expensive fuel is your own fault. You elect governments that keep the price artificially high in order to discourage cars and shovel people into mass transit. A huge chunk of your price is taxes. If you don't like this, then it's fully in your power to change it by changing your governments. If high gas and mass transit is what you want, hey, have at it. But quit telling us we're "whining" because we want to do it differently, and actually notice when prices go up.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Interesting)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207567)

Most of us would love to use a viable and convenient mass transit system, and thus use as little fuel as you are able, but it's simply not practical.

I've tried to use the bus system in my city - I can drive 15 minutes to work, or I can bus for about an hour and fifteen minutes. It's not worth losing an hour each way.

Unfortunately, cities here are focused on building massively expensive 'boutique' mass transit that only gives current riders fancier options, and doesn't actually introduce new riders who used to be driving.

We really need more subways here in US cities, but even those might have limited use as so many people live in suburbs where an underground probably wouldn't run anyway.

Re:Welcome to our world (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207615)

So much this.

I took the bus for many years and it sucked. It was poorly run, the busses were crowded, always off-schedule, and the routes made no sense at all. Then at the beginning of February they went on strike and have been since. I went out and bought a car last week and will probably never use the transit system again. My 1:30 hour commute is now about 25 minutes .. it's like having 2 hours of extra free time a day. And as a bonus my car doesn't smell like onions and feet!

I like the idea of public transit, but in practice (aside from a few notably well run system) is is usually something people put up with until they can afford a car.

Re:Welcome to our world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207651)

Thats not true for large parts of europe.
I live in the northern parts of sweden and we dont have access to a viable and convenient mass transit system.
And i still consider 5$ a gallon to be almost free gas.

If we had those prices here i guess everyone would use a suv here to

Re:Welcome to our world (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207691)

This is the exact reason I've taken to biking to work as long as there is no snow. Riding a bike often takes the exact same time, or only 10% longer, than driving, and is much faster than the bus. Cycling is not for everyone I admit, but I find the rates of cycling seriously low. People would rather drive their car to get a loaf of bread when a bike ride would be just as easy. Most people could walk it, but people don't even think twice about driving their cars. Maybe the high gas prices will get more people to just stop driving their cars so much. It would really be great.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207739)

Exactly. Those who say the US can use mass transit have never been here.

San Francisco is not like Denton, is not like New York City, is not like Kansas City, is not like Conshohoken, is not like Phoenix, is not like Columbus, etc.....

You also can't use mass transit in farming communities.

Re:Welcome to our world (2)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207865)

We really need more subways here in US cities, but even those might have limited use as so many people live in suburbs where an underground probably wouldn't run anyway.

I live in the suburbs of Helsinki. I walk 7 minutes to the local train station - local trains take about 15 minutes to take me to the center. Earlier I lived in another suburban area and needed 11 minutes of walk to the local train station. That train took 13 minutes to the center.

Local trains are extremely fast, on par with the Metro, which we also have (but it's mostly intended for in-urban transportation).

The way public transport is designed here, you can get from point A to point B even if the two points are, say, 50 Km apart, in 30-40 minutes, unless you're SOL, but even that is relative, as you'd need to use buses which would only marginally decrease the commuting speed.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Informative)

troon (724114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207599)

My last fill-up of diesel was £1.429/litre, which is £5.41 for one of your tiddly US gallons (£6.50 for a real gallon).

At today's rate of £1 = $1.5942, that's $8.62 per US gallon.

Re:Welcome to our world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207781)

It's around $8.13 a gallon right now. That's the cheapest price, and that's still more than twice the US average. I've been pointing out to Americans that in the UK , the price of gasoline has been beyond their worst nightmares for years.

Re:Welcome to our world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207819)

Geopolitical considerations aside, it is worth noting that we actually have fairly cheap oil plus, following Thatcher's passionate adoption of the fuel escalator, some of the highest taxation on oil. And we have expensive public transport thanks to privatisation of the railways and "deregulation" of bus services outside the capital - IOW introduction of private firms who undercut council services until they become unsustainable then put prices right up.

This is an americano-centric joke (5, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207507)

Gas prices are already approaching € 2 / liter in Western Europe. What are you guys complaining about ? Get a life !

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207555)

Just did a google search for £1.40 per litre in $ per gallon (the price at the nearest petrol station to me in the UK) - $8.44 per US Gallon. And we're going up another 18 cents per gallon shortly with a 3p/litre increase in fuel duty! Makes me glad I don't drive...

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207623)

The cost of everything you buy goes up as a result though, so you still get shafted.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207877)

15 (Norwegian kroner per liter) = 10.1842151 US$ per US gallon

Right...

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207627)

Yeah but you guys don't drive giant SUV/Tanks in on a 40-mile commutes from the suburbs. In the U.S., if you want your kids to go to decent schools, you sure as shit don't live downtown.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207695)

Come to europe, SUVs are everywhere now.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207765)

It's about time America civilized you people.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (0)

davek (18465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207745)

Gas prices are already approaching € 2 / liter in Western Europe. What are you guys complaining about ? Get a life !

Trust me, with our current socialist trends, we're on our way to meet you.

  • You have no refineries. The US fed refuses to allow any new refineries. Three in the northeast US have shut down in the last few months with now clear plans when they will come back online.
  • You pay an ungodly percentage in gas taxes to fund your subsidised mass transit systems. I'd LOVE a fast train to take me from Albany to Schenectady so I can go bar hopping in the city and not have to take a $60 cab home, but I DON'T want the "central committee" to manage it. However, Obama's energy secretary really wants the job.
  • You think 200 miles is a long distance. I commute almost 100 miles to work every day, and I'm only slightly above average.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (2)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207855)

A hundred miles EACH WAY? I only drive 25 miles each way and I already consider such a distance ludicrous and a major factor in deciding whether the job I have is worth keeping.

Re:This is an americano-centric joke (4, Insightful)

marcop (205587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207829)

It's hard for the average person to accept such a large swing in gas prices in such a short time especially when there are little alternatives. In Europe you have a good mass transit system. You even have Ryan Air for cheap air travel. The US doesn't have nearly as good system of trains and buses.

So when gas prices change like the following:

http://www.randomuseless.info/gasprice/gasprice.html [randomuseless.info]

It puts a strain on people's budget especially during hard economic times.

BTW, I'm a Republican and am no defender of Obama, but I would love to ask the Republican candidates who was in charge when gas prices started to ramp up in the year 2000 and why it did so.

$5? that's nothing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207509)

In Europe we already pay around €1.60 per litre, which is almost $9 per gallon. Get over yourselves America. You are 4% of the world population using 25% of it's oil. There's your problem right there.

Re:$5? that's nothing (0, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207585)

In Europe we already pay around €1.60 per litre, which is almost $9 per gallon. Get over yourselves America. You are 4% of the world population using 25% of it's oil. There's your problem right there.

Well, our 4% of the population has the largest GDP per capita than anyone else in the world. In other words, yeah, we use the most energy, but we also produce the most stuff with that oil.

Re:$5? that's nothing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207673)

Largest GDP per capita? More like 7th (nominal) or 15th (ppp) depending on how you count.

What is it with you having to believe you're the best in everything?

Re:$5? that's nothing (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207863)

None of those metrics include patriotism or American spirit! Goddamn commie statistics...

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207721)

The US? Produce stuff?

Re:$5? that's nothing (2)

sciencewatcher (1699186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207743)

There are many countries in Europe with pretty different standards of living. There are differences between standards of living between US states as well. Most European countries are on par with a US state in standard of living, population size and/or geographical size. Each country in Europe is able to obtain the same standard of living as a US state using 30% less oil. European economies are optimized for energy efficiency. The US would do itself a great service, and the rest of the world a favour if it would shift it's taxes from income taxes to higher taxes on gas. I have no problems to pay $10 a gallon. If I fill up my car it costs about $100 (10-11 gallons). I still consider it cheap. I just wished more of that money paid would go to my own government rather than foreign oil exporters like Iran and Saudi-Arabia.

Re:$5? that's nothing (4, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207747)

Well, our 4% of the population has the largest GDP per capita than anyone else in the world.

Ah, the old "we're the richest therefore we're entitled to waste the most" argument. And it's not even true. [wikipedia.org]

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207883)

Ah, the old "we're the richest therefore we're entitled to waste the most" argument.

Often used by opponents of any sort of carbon trading scheme.

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207813)

Not even close: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita

Get your numbers straight!

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207597)

My local petrol station just hit £1.41 on the litre, which is $8.29 a gallon.

This tiny violin is playing just for you, America.

Re:$5? that's nothing (2)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207703)

Here in New Zealand it's $2.10 NZD per litre and has been as high as $2.26 per litre. I'm too lazy to do the currency conversion but pretty sure that's even higher than what the Europeans pay.

So yeah. *plays small violin for the Americans*

Personally, I can't wait till food prices in America reach the levels it does in Australia/New Zealand/Europe/Rest of the World. Everything costs twice as much, if not more.

You guys have it SO DAMN GOOD and have no appreciation for it. Pretty sure your ridiculously cheap prices across the board are going to be unsustainable over the long term.

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

bigbangnet (1108411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207613)

9$ ????? Uhhh hell no. You can use xe.com [xe.com] for more info on currency.

So as of this time of writing:

1.60 EUR = 2.12696 USD

1.60 EUR = 2.09633 CAD

But ya, EU still beats the eastern countries with prices without a question.

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207659)

(1.6 EUR / 1 gallon) x (2.12696 USD / 1.6 EUR) x (1 gallon / 3.7854 liters) = $8.05 per gallon.

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

bigbangnet (1108411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207787)

fuck..I always get screwed with that gallon.. I'm used to liters... in any case, i didn't see that gallon word lol. I tought it mean from 1.6 to 9$ which was way off. I was wrong in this one lol.

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207717)

Now convert that from litres to gallons you get > $8/gallon.

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207741)

Litres are not gallons. The actual result [wolframalpha.com] is a bit over $8, although exchange rate fluctuations may change this.

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207625)

How much of that €1.60 is taxes from your government?

Re:$5? that's nothing (3, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207749)

And how much of the excess $5/gallon we don't pay at the pump goes towards environmental stewardship?

It's a chicken-and-egg problem here in the US. We have cities and surrounding suburbs built for long commutes on cheap gasoline. Mass transit is expensive to build and even more expensive when it's unused. Mass transit is unused so long as it's less convenient than driving. The problem is we don't see a need to invest until gas gets around $5/gallon to $10/gallon but when it's at $5/gallon it'll be $10/gallon or more by the time decent transit options are built /if we start building them immediately/.

We're definitely opening up ourselves to an oil-based recession.

Re:$5? that's nothing (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207641)

We're trying to quit. Spot us one more hit?

Re:$5? that's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207731)

Not just Europe either. Here in Israel I'm spending 150 shekel for 12 liters... Which converts to about $40, or about $13 for 1 gallon. Americans seriously need to stop complaining about raised fuel prizes... $5 per gallon? Ha! 'm spending 20-25% of my net paycheck on fuel for the privilege of driving to work!

Re:$5? that's nothing (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207789)

Most of European's petrol price is taxes. That's not the case in the US.

Shale is coming (5, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207515)

The idea of spurring development of clean alternatives such as solar-charged fuel cells and the like is very appealing, but these technologies are simply not up to speed yet and likely won't be for at least several years.

Meanwhile, U.S. firms are busily building infrastructure to extract oil and gas from shale deposits estimated to hold 1.5 trillion barrels, or about 5 times the current Saudi reserves of 300 bbls. There's an additional 60 bbls in the Gulf of Mexico and another 30 in Alaska. Fully exploiting these deposits would cause the U.S. to become an energy exporting giant in about ten years, even as the Middle East oil supplies begin to wane, leading to a dramatic shift in global geopolitical priorities.

Environmentalists like Treasury Sec. Chu obviously won't approve of this trend, but the hard reality is that fossil fuels are not going away soon, thanks to technological advances such as "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing using horizontally injected water).

I really don't think it's a good idea for the Treasurer of the U.S. to advocate high gasoline prices. For gasoline to rise above $5 may make sense from the point of view of encouraging conservation and alternative systems like hybrid electric and plug-in electric cars, but in the short term it would cause tremendous hardship to the people. As transportation costs rise, so does the cost of basic necessities such as food, clothing, and daily commutes. Airlines would suffer as well. The economy will probably sink back into recession, and you can just picture Mr. Obama calling the Secretary into his office: "What were you thinking, Steve? It's election year!"

Personally speaking, as a solar buff, I would love to see a massive conversion to cleaner and more efficient methods of transportation and heating/electricity. It would also be nice to encourage more use of bicycles (and even walking) as an alternative to the almighty automobile in the U.S. From that point of view, high gas prices are great.

But when it comes to jobs in an already shaky economy, it's going to be disastrous, and may in fact change the electoral outcome this November.

Re:Shale is coming (-1, Troll)

lexa1979 (2020026) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207609)

Go on America, continue to suck the very life out of Earth... Next war won't be with Iran or North Korea, but it might be World vs. USA, in order to save the very air we breath !

Re:Shale is coming (4, Funny)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207807)

And when we win that war because we have oil-based tanks and you have inferior solar ones that can be defeated by our ever-expanding smog cloud we'll use our riches to clean our own air and export you the black death of soot and smog. You'll all look up and shout "Save us!"... and we'll look down and whisper "No."

Re:Shale is coming (2)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207827)

Ah, crap. It didn't escape my <jack-crass 'merican> tags... Now comes Poe's law.

Re:Shale is coming (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207683)

""fracking" (hydraulic fracturing using horizontally injected water)"

Only for the very loose Ma Fratelli definition of "water." (It's wet, ain't it?)

Re:Shale is coming (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207699)

Nuclear is ready. But everyone is scared of it. And no one wants to deal with the waste (even if you plan [wikipedia.org] to bury it it the middle of the desert, 2,000ft underground).

Re:Shale is coming (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207843)

It also doesn't help much with energy for transport. Nuclear isn't very portable. You can run a ship on nuclear - many military vessels do just that, but you can't run your car on it.

Re:Shale is coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207723)

You managed to miss the part where he was also advocating natural gas in place of gasoline right?

Re:Shale is coming (1, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207725)

the hard reality is that fossil fuels are not going away soon, thanks to technological advances such as "fracking"

The hard reality is that dumping more CO2 into the atmosphere will cook us all.

Re:Shale is coming (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207771)

Shale has been coming for the last 40 years. It will never amount to any meaningful supply due to logistical constraints. The same applies to tar sands.

Re:Shale is coming (2)

Takionbrst (1772396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207785)

Your rant would sound considerably less crazy if you correctly identified Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, rather than Secretary of the Treasury, who is Timothy Geithner. Oh who am I kidding, you sound insane regardless! P.S.: I've interned with and a large portion of my undergraduate education was paid for by Schlumberger-- you might feel differently about fracking/fossil fuels in general if you've seen the beast from the inside.

Re:Shale is coming (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207801)

You might want to check your facts, Stephen Chu is not the Secretary of Treasury but the Secretary of Energy. It is certainly the place of the Energy Secratary to express his views about US energy consumption and how it can be altered. Whether you think it is a good idea or not, Americans have had the good fortune of very low energy cost relative to the rest of the world. His observations about the how much energy the US uses per capita are based in fact. The relationship between rising cost and decreased usage have been demonstrated numerous times. If the US wishes to become less dependent of foreign energy, then prices will rise. Yes we can create short tern scenarios that reduce the cost now, but only by shifting the cost to future generations.

Wind, solar (4, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207519)

One problem is the disingenuous "all of the above" stuff you hear them spouting in the media. Wind and solar are not anywhere near being able to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Rather than massively investing in building out wind and solar we should be spending all that money researching ways to make it viable instead of a gimmick designed to enrich campaign donors and their startups' poor business plans.

It's the same with ethanol - it's not viable as an energy source, but it's quite profitable as a political source.

Yet another point of dishonestly is even using the phrase "reduce our dependence on *foreign* oil" when really they mean any oil. This is not bad in itself, but it's also weasel wording to imply they'd like to leverage more domestic oil sources when really, they want nothing of the sort.

We're never going to get anywhere on energy policy until we make honest efforts and have honest discussion.

Re:Wind, solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207611)

Well obviously wind and solar cannot be used for cars, but they could power rail transportation of goods which could cut down the diesel used by trucks.

Re:Wind, solar (4, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207653)

If using *foreign* oil starts the process for people sorting out energy consumption then why not use that.
In the UK they've used HUGE prices. So solar power starts to break even very soon. when it gets to about 7-10 years I think about it. The problem now is i don't want to install stuff and 15 years later have to pay for obsolete stuff to be removed, just as it breaks even.

Re:Wind, solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207753)

Better tell the Chinese. They're currently building over 100GW of wind power, including a single complex of 37GW.
US electricity consumption is about 400GW.

Public transit sucks (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207537)

trade in their 'love affair with the automobile' for a marriage to mass transit.

Mass transit is great until they go on strike [www.cbc.ca] .

I took the bus for a long time. It was always a miserable experience (crowded busses, never on time, routes that made no sense, etc..), and this strike was the final straw. Went out an bought a gas guzzling car.. and will probably never use the bus system again.

(Just felt like venting that...)

European prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207553)

Oh wow... 5$/gallon? There are europen countries where tha gasoline is already at over 9 $/gallon....
Here in the tax-scourged Lombardy gasoline is at 1,812€/lt * 3,785 lt/gal * 1,3293 $/€ = 9,116 US$/gallon.

$4.37 a gallon, BARGIN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207573)

Stop fucking complaining! Your Californian average is way way cheaper than what the rest of the developed work pays for fuel!

Welcome to fascism (2, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207575)

This is what economic recovery looks like.
George orwell was wrong in that any new words and language patterns were needed. We need no doublespeak. We just define salvation as a pretty word, such as "economic recovery" "lowering unemployment" and then repeat that everything is going as intended towards salvation, time and time and time again. Of course a lot of independent people will put out graphs, essays and arguments that state the opposite. But you're the goverment or some other big, powerfull and connected, so you ignore everything, and paint your own rosy picture. If someone wants a graph, why use real numbers? just fabricate the shit as some kind of bullshit weighted numbers, and repeat the bullshit mantra; salvation is coming, everything is going as planned, our internvetions are effective.

$5 gallon gas prices? claim it's a myth, deny it as far as you can, then blame it on terrorists, speculators and iran. Just never admit that the retards and their friends in charge fucked up severely, at every single point they could.

Gas Prices (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207581)

1) stop the massive systemic subsidies to petro-firms (including tax breaks and hidden subsidies like free/cheap land use fees, etc.)

2) apply a DIRECT user-tax to vehicles, based on their mileage at registration (ie you buy your annual tabs, report your mileage, pay a tax). This would be based on road maintenance costs.

3) tax gas like any other sale.

I drive 100 miles a day, I don't mind paying a user tax on those miles, because I'm using the shared resource of roads. But it's bullshit that they can apply a gas tax (ostensibly for highway maintenance) and then steal that money for other purposes in government, then come back saying the tax isn't high enough.

With a tax code that (depending on who you talk to) is 50k pages and 5 million words long, we really need to stop social engineering in our tax code. It's a crazy idea, but maybe taxes could just be about, oh, covering the cost of government, and not about incentives or disincentives decided by some dude in an office somewhere.

I know, crazy ideas.

Ah, another confused driver (3, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207767)

The idea that road and fuel taxes pay for the total cost of road maintenance is a persistent myth. It is totally and completely untrue. The cost of road maintenance, construction alone is far higher, add the costs for emergency services dealing with road/car related issues and it goes even higher. Add policing for safety and the costs skyrockets.

Not that we have a choice, we need roads but we ALL pay for them from our ordinary taxes. Money from fuel tax might go somewhere else but that just means money flows from somewhere else to the roads.

Re:Gas Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207779)

Um, Gasoline and other fuels are already tax'ed at a rate in most cases similar to other sales tax rates.

State by state run down:
http://www.massachusettsgasprices.com/tax_info.aspx [massachuse...prices.com]

And, "maybe taxes could just be about, oh, covering the cost of government, and not about incentives or disincentives decided by some dude in an office somewhere."

Me thinks we need to reduce government in general.

Re:Gas Prices (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207815)

1) cut subsidies and watch prices go up, you think the oil companies are going to just eat that cost?

2) that's what the gas tax is supposed to do, quit trying to penalize taxpayers for gov't mismanagement

3) I would love for them to tax Gas like regular sales, that would knock the gas tax down from 49 cents a gallon to about 30 cents a gallon

Social engineering works (4, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207853)

A "gas tax" works, in terms of discouraging people from driving excessively large vehicles (which reduces the utility of roads for everybody else, in case you hadn't noticed, not only by taking up more space but by driving up insurance owing to the greater harm to others when large vehicles are in collisions.) Fuel consumption is not only related to carbon dioxide emissions but to the wear on the roads, since large vehicles do far more damage (I think it is roughly a cube power law of the mass, but I'm sure someone out there knows better). Mileage tax is not. It almost encourages people to drive badly.

The effect of the European tax regime has been to encourage efficient vehicles, and both European and Japanese manufacturers benefit. It also pads the effect of fuel cost, since taxes can be adjusted to slow the rate of increase and so reduce economic dislocation.

When the great American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked that taxes were what he paid for civilisation, he was in effect pointing out that all taxes whatever are social engineering. Small Government Republicans always claim that they want to reduce taxes, but somehow it turns out that as soon as the economy has a bit of slack representatives will vote for pork barrel (your bridge in Alaska in exchange for my bioethanol subsidy). Personally I think it is better if people without an axe to grind work out how to use taxes in a socially beneficial way and politicians only get to vote on it.

let's normalize and remove taxes from discussions (5, Insightful)

Xenious (24845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207587)

Let's stop the influx of "get over it" comments from Europe by removing the taxes from the price discussion. Then we can all equally complain about the cost of refined petrol instead of how much our governments like to add to the fees.

Re:let's normalize and remove taxes from discussio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207637)

+1

Re:let's normalize and remove taxes from discussio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207759)

As if it mattered to the consumer...

If petroleum companies started covering all costs (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207777)

... I would be fine about talking about the actual *price* of refined petrol instead of talking about the combined price + various taxes. But the fact of the matter is that petroleum companies are benefiting from a market structure where they do not incur large portions of the *costs* of using refined petrol. Until such time as all costs associated with using gasoline are built into the market price, taxes should certainly be included in the discussion.

America is a BIG Country (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207601)

Unlike the tiny countries in Europe, the US is a huge place. How would you like to have to drive 150 miles round trip just to see a doctor? Well, there are lots of people here in the states that have to do exactly that. They can't get on a bus or a train, they have no choice but to drive. Again, our country is huge, so expensive fuel has a large impact on everything we purchase because it all needs to be transported around this big country.

Re:America is a BIG Country (4, Insightful)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207693)

That is a valid point but it seems a little vacuous to basically say "we live in a big country therefore we must live quite far from work". Living 75 miles from your doctor and complaining about the round trip of 150 miles is a bit lame.

You will understand my lack of sympathy when I explain that I live 6 miles from a city centre (the UKs second city) and I whine when my trip takes more than 30 minutes. It's all relative I suppose. ;-)

Re:America is a BIG Country (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207849)

Australia is a similarly big country, with a much greater amount of vast empty wasteland and having to travel 100miles plus to a doctor (flying doctors normally cover an area around the size of the UK each).

http://www.fuelwatch.wa.gov.au/fuelwatch/pages/home.jspx [wa.gov.au]

The prices are AU$ per litre. Multiply by 3.8 (ish) to get US Gallons. Hint: Diesel's gonna cost ya over 5 AU$ which is more than 5 US$.

If the US price were really hit that bad by petrol prices, you'd have rural petrol subsidies and/or inner-city petrol taxes to compensate.

The US may finally have to live in the real world regarding petrol prices and why European engines are "small" and yet can still do 70mph with a family of kids in the back and towing a caravan without even struggling.

cheap (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207603)

Americans should stop complaining and start switching to cars with smaller engine displacement. The average maximum allowed speed in the US is around 100kmph anyway, so there is no point to burn that much gas per mile. AFAIR it's around 47% SUVs and comparable right now. BTW, where I like (EU country known for cheap gas prices, regionally) the last time I've seen gas at $3.73 per gallon was in late 90'ties. At $4.32 it was around 2005 - and that's nominal values, with inflation (ca 3-4% yearly) it'd be even less! Right now the average is about $7.5 per gallon...

You are complaining ?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207631)

Current UK petrol/gasoline prices are around $9.76 per gallon, or about £1.35 per litre as us Britishers know it.
Diesel is about £1.42 per litre, or about £10.33 per gallon.
Like it or not, your fuel price is going one way. Suck it up while you still can lol.

AG

Re:You are complaining ?!? (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207751)

Don't forget that US gallons are, from memory, around 17% smaller than those in the UK. Still around 9 bucks a gallon though which is pretty awful

Cognitive dissonance (4, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207639)

What's really mind-blowing is the GOP candidates (except Paul) attacking Obama for both
1) not being tough enough with Iran [nytimes.com]
2) and for high gas prices [nytimes.com] (!)

In what universe do they live in where they don't realize pressuring an oil-producing country is going to raise oil prices (and hence gas prices, it doesn't fall from the sky)?

Re:Cognitive dissonance (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207851)

Not only that, but these people who love the free market are complaining that the president isn't playing dictator and directly controlling gas prices. They want an open market for oil, which is exactly what we have today, yet blame the president for how that open market acts. I'm not shocked at their own hypocrisy, I'm just always surprised at how many people fall for it.

The "speculator" boogieman has already come out (5, Insightful)

MetricT (128876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207643)

I've already seen some of my Facebook friends grousing about how speculators are gouging them. They have a hard time understanding how much the world has changed in a decade. Most of it is due to static oil supply meeting rapidly rising oil demand, coupled with extremely inelastic demand for gas. Within a few years we have another billion or so people competing with us for the same barrel of oil.

It's actually hard to speculate in oil, simply because there's no place to store enough to make a huge difference. Most "speculators" are sovereign countries, who are wagering that oil left in the ground today would be more expensive tomorrow.

Iran produces about 5% of the world's oil. If Israel and Iran go at it, the price of oil would go through the ceiling. The price of oil is set by the cost of extracting the last barrel of oil, and tapping those deep-sea oil wells and Canadian oil sands for that last barrel of oil is extremely expensive. If it costs $100 to produce that last barrel of Canadian oil, why would Saudi Arabia sell their oil for $20 instead of $100 too? They'd be leaving money on the table. That's why the last barrel sets the price.

And if a country expects a barrel of oil to shoot up $50 in the event of war, it makes sense to either charge more for pumping it today, or leave it in the ground until the price goes up naturally.

To put this in Slashdot terms, supposed you had a complete set of Babylon 5 collector plates that were worth $100 today, and you expected them to be worth $1000 next year from now, would you sell them now or wait? The smart thing to do is either wait until next year, or require the buyer to pay you a premium today above the $100 asking price. Expectations affect the price. And if you wait until next year, you have reduced the global supply of collector plates on sale, so the price goes up a bit to compensate. Supply and demand also affect the price.

If you're really worried about speculators, buy a Prius, Leaf, or Volt. Last time I checked, no one's been able to form a cartel on sunshine and wind. And if you drive a big SUV, stop whining about how speculators, government, Democrats, or "The Man" is screwing you, and take a long, hard look at how you are screwing yourself.

Don't come to Australia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207657)

If you think that's expensive.... we are paying around US$5.13/Gallon here in the Australia.. (converted from AUD/L price of 1.45).. that's a reasonable city price, if you head into the country the price goes up from there.

So just relax in the knowledge you're getting a bargain - that's your 1 trillion dollar a year military doing its part to guarantee cheap US fuel supplies as part of the US energy strategy...

Mass Transportation in America (2)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207671)

Mass Transportation in America won't have the amazing effect that people expect that it will. It makes sense in the cities (and in our cities we definitely need more / better public transportation), but the vast amount of Ameicans don't live in cities. We live outside of them, spread across a truly massive country, in smaller towns and villages. Mass transportation simply isn't economically viable on our scale.

It's a similar reason as to why cellular phone prices here are much higher than Europe. You can cover an entire country in Europe fairly easily, so it isn't as expensive to support. Thus, it's cheaper for the consumer. But in the US, it costs a fortune to plop down enough towers to cover even half of the country.

Good! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207677)

Now maybe more people will ride the bus.

Responsibility (1)

bigbangnet (1108411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207681)

I hope you'll understand what I'm gonna say but I just can't understand how this industry works with responsibility. It's like they don't have any responsibility at all and they don't want it. Usually, when your company fucks up bad, you clean it up and your company pays for it, not your customer. You don't want your customer to go off because of that. A real world example is if a building blows up in flames and you have to build another store, well your not going to rise the prices in your store because of that incident. In other words and tellling that again, if you fuck up, mistake or not, you don't pass that "responsibility" or whatever you want to call it on your customers.

But for the petrol industry, each time there's an incident, it effects the prices. OK I might exagerate on my next example but these things happened and have been reported on the news like if an oil silo blows up or something major happens, the prices are affected. WTF ? If someone breaks a nail, the prices might increase 5 cents lol.

Oh My God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207729)

That thing that used to cost less COSTS MORE NOW.

That thing that is easily manipulated and a political football GETS PRESS ATTENTION IN AN ELECTION YEAR.

I would have been disappoint if it were not so.

Inflation (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207733)

I hope you all recognise that the prices of gas are being moved up by inflation, not by any increase in demand (demand in US is lower than 5 years ago), not by any decrease in supply (supply is greater now, with the demand being lower, and shale oil came online, there is more output).

It has nothing to do with any speculation on oil prices - speculators only discover the price that the economy sets for the underlying asset in whatever currency that is being speculated in. There are always 2 sides in every speculative action - some bet that prices go up and some bet that prices go down, you don't see politicians come out and blame speculators for LOWER prices, politicians like to take credit for lowering prices themselves, but speculators are always blamed by the politicians for higher prices.

In totalitarian nations (like former USSR), speculators were actually sent to prison, if not worse, all while government was printing billions of worthless paper and fixing prices, which always creates black markets and causes prices in the devalued currency to spike.

USA will not see lower prices as long as the Fed keeps printing, and the Fed will keep printing to prevent interest rates from spiking during T-bill and bond auctions, Feds promise to keep interest rates down for years, and this is done by buying up the Treasury debt with fake money.

I had a funny thread going on here [slashdot.org] , the guy can't understand basic inflation and that his house price is falling in terms of real money and in terms of his purchasing power, he expects the value of his house to go up, believe it or not.

Real values of the houses cannot and should not go up, the Fed is trying to preserve the nominal values, so money supply is inflated, real prices are falling, while nominal prices are staying up pumped by inflation that the Fed creates. This will cause all nominal prices to go up, but real prices are falling because of under-consumption, but not because people are saving. USA is using less energy than before (even less electricity), this is inconsistent with any recovery, it's not a recovery, people cannot afford to spend. But they can't afford to spend because they are not producing anything themselves, and they are not producing anything, because manufacturing left the country and manufacturing left because money is not good, inflation is killing savings and investment and taxes are historic high.

They'll tell you that taxes are very low based on % of GDP, but that's nonsense, GDP has been falling for 2 decades as real inflation is 11-15%, and so the deflater that is applied to the GDP is fake. USA is in a real depression, not a recovery, not a recession even. This is all done with fake money. The banks' earnings are fake, they are moving Fed's money and Treasury debt around, that's all they do. You can't have real investment credit because there are no savings, savers are being wiped out or pushed out of the country, all while the politicians are using every tool in their arsenal to gain popular vote, it's called class warfare and it's being used against you to destroy your economy.

Yep, it will get to $5 (1)

whoda (569082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207757)

Then someday it will be at $6, then $7, then $8, then $9, etc, etc.

It's the infrastructure, baby (1)

Pretbek (600867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207763)

A gas price hike alone will probably not change the behavior of Americans significantly, other than driving more slowly, driving less, or driving the smaller vehicle in the household.

To make people bike to school or to work, you need to be able to get there safely. With the current road system you risk your life, at least in the suburban areas that I live and move around in.
I really miss biking everywhere in the Netherlands, where bicyclists often have their own separate bike lane, and the car drivers are used to bicyclists (who by the way obey traffic rules) in traffic with them.

Public transportation is also sorely lacking here in the US, it is not a viable alternative in its current state. Perhaps higher taxes on gasoline could pay for public transportation improvements? ... HAAAAHAHA! There is a great solution, but a political non-starter for ya.

What you meant to say (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207769)

When you said

if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict

what you meant to say was "if the United States of America start another war."

Escalates into military conflict... Like an accident, it just "happens". Cut the crap.

It's funny watching the europeans say it's nothing (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207795)

The US is not Europe. There is greater distance between our population centers and most of our workers commute longer distances.

Increasing fuel costs are not something we can survive. Wise american politicians are taking it seriously... foolish ones are not. The public are fickle... and if irritated will turn on anyone they perceive as guilty. Such is the nature of politics.

Further, high fuel costs make everything more expensive. It makes food more expensive, it makes raw materials more expensive, it makes everything more expensive.

The net result of all that is that we're going to have to charge more for everything. That means the international cost of many goods will go up.

It should be noted that the trigger for the arab spring was rising food prices also related to fuel prices. Because of these fuel prices the cost of grain will keep going up which means we could get some very large famines throughout the third world.

This is not a minor issue. Fuel prices are high in europe mostly because of taxes... not the actual price of the fuel. When the actual price goes up it will force the european system to increase subsidies to industry to offset those costs... or suffer even worse economic problems.

Double Pumping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207833)

[QUOTE]and as summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon[/QUOTE]

Gasoline is sold by volume. It is not sold by density. Fuel warms-up in transit during the summer. So, the gallons you are pumping out have less fuel, by density, in them, and thus less stored energy, which results in fewer MPG. While you are getting less 'bang-for-your-buck' (pun), the gas station is charging even more for the lesser amount of energy they are distributing to you, because they raise the prices during the summer.

[b]You are getting DOUBLE PUMPED by the gas stations![/b]

Mass transit not the solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207837)

The problem with mass transit in places other than the coasts is that it just isn't. I live in San Antonio, TX. If it wanted to take the bus to work I would have to walk 20 minutes to the closest bus stop. Take a 45 minute bus ride. Switch buses, take another 25 minute bus ride and then walk 4 blocks to my workplace. Work is 12 miles from my house, but the bus would do 20 miles because of the route. This is not a practical alternative. The other poor thing is that the bus arrives at the final stop at 8:05am which means I would be late for work, so I would have to catch the one that stops at 7:05 am which means I sit for an hour before work, and I would have to get up at like 4am to catch the bus. Very very impractical. Mass transit is not the solution for most cities.

Same old story (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207841)

It seems that predicting doom and gloom about the next round number in gas prices has become an American tradition (see $3 gas in 2005, $4 gas in 2008, etc). On the contrary, overall it's been a good thing - it's lead to conservation and fuel-efficient vehicles, just as economics would predict. 10 years ago the notion of getting Americans to use less gasoline year-over-year was crazy talk... now it's reality.

In early 2008 I traded in my old '90s Toyota truck for a Ford Escape hybrid. Many of my friends thought I was crazy. "Gasoline prices will never make it worthwhile, you're wasting your money on hybrid tech, Ford will never be profitable again", etc... Now Ford is more profitable than ever and builds vehicles on par with Toyota/Honda quality (that Escape is at 60,000 miles and hasn't had any service except oil and air filter changes). And gas prices averaging more than $4 over the lifetime of the vehicle did make the purchase worthwhile, especially with the hybrid tax credit.

The other really interesting thing going on right now is that the US "is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency", according to a recent Bloomberg report. [bloomberg.com] Apparently domestic oil output is the highest it's been since 2003, and (even better) the amount of oil we import from the Middle East has fallen to 15% from 23% in 2009. The sooner we're not relying on places like Iran and Saudi Arabia for our day-to-day energy needs, the better.

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