$4.00 Per Gallon Gas By Spring? Bye Bye Economic Recovery?

Higher gas prices in the spring could have an impact on the economy, and the election.

Seemingly out of nowhere, there appears to be a fairly massive spike in the price of gasoline headed our way later this year:

Maybe you’ll want to start salting away money for 2012 fuel costs now. Get ready to see $4-a-gallon gasoline in various parts of the U.S. sometime this spring, according to one prediction. Another prediction says that some of the nation’s biggest cities — such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York — will see record Memorial Day averages of $4.55 to $4.95 for a gallon of regular gasoline.

The predictions come from two sources. One is the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey, which provides the daily averages for the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, using retail receipts from more than 100,000 retail outlets across the U.S.

The other is the annual price outlook from GasBuddy.com, where 300,000 to 400,000 member motorists a day report and post online and through phone apps the highest and lowest local prices they see. There are more than 250 price-posting GasBuddy websites devoted to various towns and cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, is predicting a national average of $4.05 a gallon this spring, which would be just short of the Energy Department’s all-time inflation-adjusted record of $4.114 reached in the summer of 2008. California’s average would be higher, he said, adding that he didn’t expect it to hit the state’s record of $4.588 a gallon.

One reason, Kloza said, was that those prices will be built on oil that is significantly more expensive than the commodities trading benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude that is reported every day on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

The NYMEX on Friday, for example had West Texas crude trading at $98.61 a barrel, down 49 cents. But much of the oil the U.S. imports is based on Brent North Sea crude, which was trading at $110.38 per barrel in London. Other sources of U.S. crude are also more expensive, Kloza said.

“The Alaska North Slope oil you rely on in California has been trading at about $10.40 a barrel more than West Texas. Louisiana crude from the Gulf of Mexico has been trading $11 a barrel higher.”

There’s further talk from these sources that gas prices could be near $5.00 per gallon heading into the summer, a prospect that would obviously cause major concerns for the summer driving season. For the economy as a whole, the impact of higher fuel prices are rather apparent and impact not just the pocketbooks of American drivers, but also the costs of transportation at nearly every level of the economy. If it costs more to ship the vegetables from California to your grocery store, then you’re going to end up spending more for those vegetables, not to mention pretty much every other level of the economy. If consumers and business are forced to spend more on transportation expenses, then that leaves them with less money for other expenditures, which in turn hurts the economy as a whole. Several analysts, for example, blame the rather obvious economic slowdown at the start of last year at the spike in fuel prices that we experienced at the time. If it happens again, it could put yet another damper on an already feeble recovery.

Politically, the impact of higher fuel prices is also fairly apparent. When gas prices started to rise early last year, President Obama’s job approval numbers felt the effect. They’ve recovered at least a little bit since then, but that was more than a year before the election. A gas price “crisis” over the spring and summer is likely to be bad news for the President, and would quite obviously become an issue in the 2012 elections. Much of it is likely to take the form of the GOP’s “Drill, Baby, Drill” sloganeering of the 2008 election, but it’s also worth noting that upward pressure on energy prices, combined with the bleak jobs picture, is going to make it next to impossible for President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline, and a political minefield if he does.

Of course, Keystone XL wouldn’t have an impact on energy prices for years and, as I noted when all of this came up last year, there’s very little that Washington can do about gas prices given that the factors driving up prices are largely out of the control of any government:

It’s clear that the majority of the factors driving energy prices up are beyond the control of any government. In fact, the main reason that oil and gas prices are higher today than they were in 2009 is because the world economy is in far better shape now than it was then and demand has, consequentially, returned to pre-recession levels for the most part. Add this increased demand into the supply problems created by the fact that the majority of the world’s oil happens to be located in the most politically unstable part of the world and it’s easy to see why the prices of both these commodities has increased so significantly over the past two years.

As we’ve found far too often over the past 40 years or so, there’s very little we can do to make the Middle East more politically stable. That may happen some day, but it wil happen because the people of the Middle East want it to happen not because of some “solution” imposed from the outside. So, we’re likely to  have to deal with a politically unstable Middle East for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, there’s not much that can be done in the short term to impact the demand side of the equation. Demand for energy has increased in China and India precisely because these nations are becoming more developed economically, meaning that they need more oil for electricity generation and gasoline. Economic progress in those countries is actually a good thing, though, since it means a wider market for American goods and, of course, a better life for the people of India and China.  Back home, the demand for energy continues unabated and it’s now clear that even increases in the price of gasoline, whether naturally or through imposition of higher gas taxes, has very little impact on driving behavior.

Finally, there’s not a lot we can do on the supply side of the equation either. In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, part of the Department of Energy issued a report that found that opening the entire outer continental shelf to offshore drilling would have very little impact on the price of gasoline.

Added into all of this, of course, is the unknown factor. A year ago at this time, few people suspected that Libya would end up having a six month long civil war that would cut off its delivery of oil to Europe, something which contributed greatly to the increased price of oil for much of the first half of 2011. This year, it’s entirely possible that the unknown factor could come from some 2,300 miles to the east of Libya in the Straits of Hormuz. As insane as it would be for either the United States or Iran to force a confrontation there, all it would take is one badly timed incident for things to spin out of control. And guess what happened the other day:

At a time of heightened tensions with Iran, U.S. military officials told CNN Friday that U.S. military and Coast Guard ships had two close encounters earlier this month with high-speed Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf that exhibited provocative behavior.

The incidents occurred January 6, according to a senior U.S. military official.

The USS New Orleans, an amphibious transport ship was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf last Friday when three Iranian Navy speed boats rapidly approached within 500 yards of the ship, the official said. The Iranians did not respond to whistle signals or voice queries from the New Orleans. The lack of response disregards standard maritime protocols, the official said. The boats eventually broke away.

On the same day, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Adak was also harassed by high-speed Iranian Navy boats while operating 75 miles east of Kuwait City. Iranian personnel in the small boats appeared to be holding AK-47 rifles and at least one video camera, the official said. U.S. personnel on the cutter also reported seeing a forward gun that was manned on one of the Iranian boats, according to the official. Eventually, communications with a larger Iranian vessel in the area were established and the speed boats stopped their harassment.

No shots were fired in either incident, both of which were videotaped. The Pentagon may release that footage later Friday.

While the U.S. Navy has had routine encounters with Iranian naval forces for years, the Navy has reported seeing more aggressive action in recent weeks from Iranian-flagged vessels. Officials believe such aggressive action carries the potential for miscalculation. Typically, Iranian small boats are operated by forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps force and are considered to be more aggressive than regular Iranian forces.

There’s at least some speculation that the Iranian boats were testing the American vessels, seeing how close they could get before being turned away. All it takes is for one of those incidents to go badly, or for communications to break down, and we could end up with an incident that increases tensions in the area to a level unseen in decades. The direction which oil prices would take if that happens would seem to be rather obvious.

So, you’ve been warned. Gas prices look to be headed up in the spring. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Economics and Business, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Surely cost-sensitive buyers(*) all have their Prius by now.

    * – this is a joke, relying as it does on rational economic agents and revealed preference. In actuality, many people were seduced by higher performance models, and now fear the increase.

  2. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Let’s talk “rational,” john. I know a guy who has a Civic hybrid. He was just informed that his battery is going bad, and needs replacing. And since it’s JUST out of warranty, it’s a $5500 bill. And it won’t pass inspection with the warning indicator on.

    Now add in how the Obama administration is blocking new mines for the rare earths, meaning that China has a near-monopoly on the raw materials for the batteries, and are jacking up the prices…

    Oh, and when the EPA rules kick in on coal plants and we lose 10% of our electrical generation capacity, are you willing to cut your own electrical consumption by 10%?

    BOY, ain’t it a good thing we didn’t open ANWR back under the Clinton administration, and we’re blocking the Keystone pipeline expansion.

  3. Rick DeMent says:

    Opening ANWAR would not have had any effect whatsoever on gas prices. Neither would drilling flat out regardless of environmental consequences. Ditto on the pipeline. If the Saudi’s, who have the largest alleged reserves on the planet can’t boost production enough to drop prices, then we certainly can’t no matter what we do and trying to do it will just be a “drain America first” policy that would hurt us more farther down the road.

    Simply pout the US does not have the kind of reserves necessary to increase production enough to move wold oil prices and even if we did all OPEC has to do is twirl back the tap a 1/4 of a turn and we’re right back where they want us. It would be nice if the drill hawks actually learned something about oil production and markets.

  4. @Jenos Idanian:

    Sorry, I don’t believe your battery story.

    Someone told me to worry at 150K miles (I’m at 102000 and still getting 50 mpg), but when I looked I found that used batteries, out of wrecks, are selling for $200. Not the going price you’d expect with real demand.

    Why didn’t your phony friend buy used?

    Anyway, I’ve owned my Prius for 6 years, encountered dozens of Toyota and Honda hybrid owners, and never encountered ONE bad battery.

  5. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    BOY, ain’t it a good thing we didn’t open ANWR back under the Clinton administration, and we’re blocking the Keystone pipeline expansion.

    It IS a good thing. No matter how much oil is flowing in, it’ll never be enough; a society whose transportation (and economy!) is dependent on the burning of fossil fuels will NEVER voluntarily lessen their usage of it. They won’t invest in higher efficiencies, they won’t look for alternatives, won’t innovate, they’ll just keep right on doing it. Not exactly a recipe for a clean and efficient future.

    Oh, and when the EPA rules kick in on coal plants and we lose 10% of our electrical generation capacity, are you willing to cut your own electrical consumption by 10%?

    Sure – it’s easy to do this if you put even a few minutes’ thought into it. We cut our energy bills by a third two years ago, by simply installing kill switches on little-used appliances and doing about an hour of weatherstripping and caulking around the house. If it’s a choice between that and putting up with endless pollution from crappy coal generators, I think it’s pretty clear that the time investment is worth it in the long run.

  6. More data:

    But early fears about exhausted hybrid batteries have persisted despite the track record. “I remember when the 2004 Prius came out, there were many articles stating that buyers would be facing $10,000 costs to replace their [traction] battery,” says Cooper. “Here we are four years later with a .003 percent failure rate and the ability to buy used batteries on eBay starting at $500. It sounds to me like buying a hybrid isn’t quite the gamble that people once thought it was.”

    a .003 percent failure rate, you nitwit

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I’m not a hybrid owner and even I don’t believe the scare stories about batteries. I live in Marin County which would be ground zero for hybrids, and you know what I see? An awful lot of well-used, older Priuses.

  8. guthrum says:

    There are some promising developments of new engines for cars that do not use fossil fuels. One is the Johnson generator/motor. This motor produces more electricity than it uses by the power of permanent magnets (fully patented). There are people who have built these and are saving 75 % on their home electrical costs. Prototypes are being developed for cars. There is also the hydrogen cell: a device that can be built and converts water to hydrogen. People who are using these report 30-50% less gas usage. A plant in SC is using these in their forklifts.
    These are just some of the devices being developed by inventors, engineers, small businesses, and others; not the government, universities, or some huge corporation.
    Check online for more information about these and others.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Look, if you are making car purchase decisions based on some fantasy that prices will never go up you really need to stop being stupid and, when able, look at high mileage cars. Gas price point isn’t a concern of mine, but if it is for you, then get a hybrid or a diesel or a high efficiency gas engine and quit worrying about it.

  10. John Burgess says:

    As early as last spring, high oil prices were negatively affecting the Saudi domestic economy. Now, the Saudi government has the wherewithal to decrease the pain by allocating more of its treasury to social programs and subsidies. That mitigates the effects somewhat, but it doesn’t change the equation.

    The Saudi government surely enjoys reaping the benefits of high prices, but it also sees a line beyond which they become counterproductive, thus its ‘dovish’ stance on oil prices. The Saudis have so much capital invested abroad (i.e., out of the KSA) that high prices hurt them just as much as they do other economies.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    For the first time in 60 years, the U.S. is a net exporter of fuel. I don’t believe our activities are setting the price here one way or the other anymore.

  12. Lomax says:

    Price gouging again! Email your congressmen and demand an investigation by Congress. Price will go back down below $3 a gallon. Happens every time!

  13. I drive a hybrid Mecury Mariner (the Mercury version of the Ford Escape), and all you need to know about battery liability is that while the warranty on the engine and transmission is only 60k miles, the warranty on the motor, battery, and charging system is 100k miles.

    You don’t do that if the battery is the weak link in the car.

    Sadly, Ford is discontinuing the hybrid version of the Escape in the 2013 model year. I had pretty much just been planning to replce the current car with a newer one in a couple years. Now I’ll actually have to think about what to buy.

    It really makes me sad that you don’t see more hybrid SUV’s because that that’s the market segment, not the small car segment, that would really benefit from hybridization. Due to diminishing returns, going from 18-25 mpg saves way more gas than going from 30mpg to 40 mpg.

    For example, if you drive 250 miles per week, in the first case you save 4 gallons of gas each week. In the second case you only save 2 gallons per week.

  14. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    …There’s very little that Washington can do about gas prices given that the factors driving up prices are largely out of the control of any government.

    Which made Michele Bachmann’s naked pander that she’d immediately drop gas prices to $2/gal. even dumber.

    (The link is worth a click just for the photo. Those eyes, oh, those eyes…)

  15. The Anti-Tebow...formerly Hey Norm says:

    No question the economy is hyper-sensitive to oil costs. One of the best things that happened to the economy during the Reagan years was plummeting oil costs…far bigger impact than any tax cuts…or even the deficit spending.

  16. Guthrum says:

    @michael reynolds: Hybrids: some dealers around here are throwing in free battery replacement for the life of the car. People also forget that the electric motors are virtually maintenance free and can almost go on forever.

  17. Rick DeMent says:

    @The Anti-Tebow…formerly Hey Norm:

    Yeah every time someone brings up the magic of Reagen’s tax cuts I bring up the reality of the biggest oil price collapse in post war history … naturally I get blank stares.

  18. anjin-san says:

    And it won’t pass inspection with the warning indicator on.

    I have been driving for 36 years, not sure what this dreaded “inspection” you are talking about is. Can you provide specifics?

  19. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Blow me. I don’t know the mileage, but my friend bought a used 2004 Civic hybrid 4-door. Maybe he’s lying to me, but that’s what he said — $5500 for new battery, no pass inspection while the warning light is on.

    Back when ANWR was first discussed, it was dismissed as being 10 years before we’d see any good. That was about 13 years ago. And it doesn’t include all the good-paying jobs that would go along with opening and running it.

    And let’s not sweep the rare earths aspect of these batteries. As I said above, the Obama administration is blocking mining of these elements, and China’s already flexing its muscles by imposing brief bans on sales of them (they have a LOT of them in their ground) to the US and Japan, and jacking up the prices.

    Yeah, great idea. Fight our dependence on foreign oil for dependence on rare metals pretty much only from China. Because they don’t have enough leverage over us already.

  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, and what’s all the surprise? Candidate Obama said that under him, energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” His Energy Secretary said that our gas prices should be up where Europe’s are — which is around $5.00/gallon.

    This is what you voted for.

  21. @Jenos Idanian:

    Either you are lying or really, really, lucky.

    Imagine, to hit one of the .003 percent failure rate examples, and it proves all your political preconceptions!

  22. matt says:

    @anjin-san: Depending on where you live you will never have to deal with an inspection. I lived in Illinois most of my life and never had to get my car inspected. Soon as I moved to Texas I had to get my car inspected. For most of the state you take your car to a mechanic and he checks the emergency brake the headlights the check engine light the exhaust etc. Basically all the obvious things you should be keeping in good shape on a car. If you live in certain areas you have to also pass an emissions inspection.

    An o2 sensor in my fiancee’s car decided to act up just before it was inspected last time. When they pointed out the light to her she told them what it was for and when they took a reading they got the same response from the OCD so they went ahead and passed her car.

  23. anjin-san says:

    As I said above, the Obama administration is blocking mining of these elements,

    I know there is an effort to block Chinese mining in the US, because they already control about 96% of the market, and no one wants to see them corner it completely. Is this what you are referring to or are you talking about fact free Freeper rants?

    How about some specifics?

  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: My “luck” is in not being the guy with the Honda. And yeah, my story’s anecdotal — but it’s still more “real” to me than your statistics. Further, aren’t your stats from the Prius?

    I got no problems with people who want to buy hybrids. I got problems with people who think that their magic solutions are just perfect for everyone and get the law to make their solutions mandatory for everyone. I like my internal-combustion-only vehicle just fine, and I’ll stick with it, thank you. Until it becomes illegal.

  25. John Burgess says:

    @The Anti-Tebow…formerly Hey Norm: Cheap oil in the ’90s didn’t hurt Clinton’s economic miracle much, either.

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ Matt

    In CA we have to pas periodic smog inspections, but that is it. Interesting that in socialist CA you have a light regulatory environment, but in freeholding Texas, it is another story.

  27. Gustopher says:

    I guess we could invade Iran.

    Balance the anger of higher gas prices with the patriotic feeling of invading a country we don’t like in the oil producing region. I suspect it would actually work.

  28. @Jenos Idanian:

    I once had a guy named Jenos lie to me, so obviously you’re lying too. Now you may point to all sort of “facts” to prove you’re telling the truth, but my experience is more real to me. Obviously, you’re completely full of it.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And let’s not sweep the rare earths aspect of these batteries. As I said above, the Obama administration is blocking mining of these elements, and China’s already flexing its muscles by imposing brief bans on sales of them (they have a LOT of them in their ground) to the US and Japan, and jacking up the prices.

    Bullshit. They are reopening an old iron mine just a few miles away from me and at least half the reason is for the rare earth metals. I don’t know where you are getting your info from, Jenos, but I suggest getting it from someplace else.

  30. Scott O. says:
  31. @Jenos Idanian:

    my story’s anecdotal — but it’s still more “real” to me than your statistics

    You need say no more.

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    Looks like I mixed up a couple of stories; the Obama administration has done a great deal to block the development of many energy sources in the US, but apparently not the rare earths. However, I would find it entirely consistent for them to impose crippling regulations on the mining.

    I did a bit of checking online on my friend’s Civic story; others have reported cost estimates from $2500 to $7000 for replacing an out-of-warranty battery, so I think it’s plausible. He might have exaggerated to me, but it’s not totally out of line.

    Still, we’re setting ourselves up to become very dependent on China for batteries, and the use of pure electric vehicles (Leaf, Volt) will simply shift the energy costs from oil to the power grid — which is about to take a hefty hit from the new regulations on coal plants and decades of the left blocking new generating stations (dams, nuclear plants, coal plants, etc.) And as I said before, those costs will “necessarily skyrocket” (Obama).

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    So your think your friends battery story could be true, you don’t really know, but it might be. Sounds like conclusive proof that hybrid technology sucks to me. Liberals suck too. They don’t want you to have a cool car.

    You were wrong about Obama blocking mining, but you don’t like Obama, so you are going to sort of stick with it, even though it is clearly false and Democrats have taken steps to prevent China from cornering that market.

    And apparently you have not heard that Oil drilling has surged under Obama, or you have, but you don’t like him so you are sticking with your right wing alternate reality. We are now a net energy exporter, but you are going to ignore that too.

    Dude, go back to where you came from. Really.

  34. Scott O. says:

    the power grid — which is about to take a hefty hit

    According to Fox News:

    “The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is an association of companies producing electricity from coal, said the rule will destroy jobs, raise the cost of energy and make electricity less reliable. A study by the group estimated that as much as 12 percent of coal-fired generation would be forced to retire due to the regulation.

    But an AP survey of 55 power plant producers found that estimate, and others, to be inflated. The mercury rule, along with another to reduce power plant pollution that blows downwind, will force portions of more than 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states to retire, and put another 36 power plants on the brink of retirement.

    But not a single operator interviewed said the EPA was solely to blame for the decision.”

    “The average age of the units retiring or at risk of shutting down was 51 years old, the AP found. And while they produce enough power for more than 22 million households, experts say they probably won’t cause the lights to go out, because in many cases the power is being replaced.”

  35. Scott O. says:
  36. Ron Beasley says:

    It doesn’t matter if we like it or not cheap oil is gone. A society dependent on $30 bbl oil is not something we are ever going to see again. There is plenty of oil left but our economy and society as it exists today can’t afford it. It doesn’t matter how much there is but how much it will cost. “Things they are a changin” if we like it or not.

  37. Ben Wolf says:

    The USGS lowered the estimate of recoverable oil in ANWR to less than one billion barrels back in 2010. That’s an eleven day supply at current rates of use.

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Let’s see: I know that Candidate Obama promised that energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” I know his chosen Secretary of Energy wants gas to hit “European levels” — currently around $8.00/gallon (just double-checked). I know Obama shut down offshore oil drilling until the threat of a contempt charge got him to lift the moratorium, while he offered loan guarantees for offshore drilling off Brazil (which was, coincidentally I’m sure, a hefty windfall for George Soros.) I’d be very curious to hear what kinds of plants are replacing those plants due to be shut down. I know they aren’t coal, as Obama promised to “bankrupt” any utility that tried to build a coal one. I know they aren’t nuclear, as the left has kept any new nuclear plants from being built for about 30 years. I know they aren’t hydroelectric, as they’ve also stopped new dams from being built for some time.

    I know what my friend told me, and I did a quick Googling to ascertain it’s plausible. And I know that the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and all other plug-in cars will be simply shifting their energy demands from oil to the power grid.

    Obama’s policies are the extension of what the left has been pushing for decades — less energy that costs more. Some would argue that it’s simply a logical evolution, but it’s indisputable that the left has done all it can to accelerate — if not guarantee — those results.

    And we’ve seen what the left considers “energy policy.” Wind farms — as long as they don’t kill birds or besmirch offshore views. Solar power that ends up being a huge money pit (that ends up in the pockets of big Democratic donors.) And more and more regulations that force Americans to curb their own consumption, regardless of desire or ability to support their own needs. (Increasing gas mileage standards, “smart meters” that can coordinate “rolling blackouts,” toxic lightbulbs, low-flow toilets, etc. etc.)

    So when I hear dire predictions about $4.00/gallon gas, I remember Steven Chu saying how the US should pay almost double that and Obama telling us that energy prices, if he has his way, will “necessarily skyrocket.”

    This is what you voted for, anjin. This is what your candidate said would happen. So tell us all how wonderful it is. Tell us how great this will be.

    You voted for this, anjin. Now defend it.

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    Let’s have a couple of sources on those quotes:

    Obama

    Chu

    If gas does hit $4.00/gallon, anjin, or even $5.00, put on a big ol’ grin when you pull up to the pump. You voted for the guy who said he’d do it.

  40. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: So we have a President who says he wants prices to go up, but then boosts domestic production to record levels. Hmm, I wonder how we should judge him? By his rhetoric or by his actions?

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: P.S.

    It’s intellectually inconsistent to attack Obama for trying to shut down production and then attack him for the Import-Export Bank subsidizing drilling off Brazil’s coast. Here’s your word for the day: oil is fungible.

  42. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: Yeah, the oil is fungible. But the important part is who gets paid for it. At the same time he was saying how dangerous offshore drilling was in the Gulf, he was telling Brazil how he looked forward to the US being a major customer of Brazil’s.

    Obama lays it all out, but his supporters just don’t seem to listen.

  43. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You mean that under Obama’s policies we’re:

    1). Preventing drilling in U.S. territory, thereby draining other countries’ reserves and preserving our own for the future.

    2). Pushing deep-sea drilling onto Brazil so we don’t have high-risk operations in our own waters.

    And you object to this?

  44. anjin-san says:

    If gas does hit $4.00/gallon, anjin, or even $5.00

    It happened under Bush, and he pretty much gave the oil companies their own offices in the west wing. Sorry, but you have yet to produce even a single coherent argument.

  45. anjin-san says:

    You voted for this, anjin. Now defend it.

    Americans have known about the problems associated with high energy consumption since the early 70s. As a society, we have chosen to do pretty much nothing about it. The problem is far larger than any single administration. It existed before Obama, and it will be here when he leaves the scene.

    Go back to whatever blogs you hail from. You can rant with your pals about George Soros, and trade fact free diatribes about Obama all you like.

  46. matt says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah I was exceedingly surprised when I moved here because of how intrusive government can be in this state in comparison to the supposedly uber liberal Illinois..

    Frankly I get the feeling that they intentionally make government as inefficient as possible down here to further the meme that government is always bad..

  47. Racehorse says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Inspection: a lot of these inspections have now become nothing more than some sort of boost for car dealers and after-market parts stores in which the poor car owner has to shell out money for some non-safety part just to get it through the inspection and on the road. I had to buy a new gas cap – a new gas cap! to get it passed at the inspection shop. How crazy! The old gas cap wasn’t leaking gas or anything like that. That’s what I’m talking about. And we need to take a look at a lot of regulations that can stifle ingenuity and technological progress toward new types of engines. An inventor, whether at a large corporation or someone in their backyard garage, does not need an 8″ thick book of regulations and rules from some government agency to have to figure out and meet.

  48. anjin-san says:

    he was telling Brazil how he looked forward to the US being a major customer of Brazil’s.

    Can you really not see the strategic advantages of having suppliers outside of the middle east? Must we diagram it with crayons for you?

  49. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And I know
    that the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and all other
    plug- in cars will be simply shifting their energy
    demands from oil to the power grid.

    Since that’s a way more efficient form of energy, good for them.

  50. You know, way up top I started with “a joke, relying as it does on rational economic agents”.

    The sad thing about Jenos is that he demonstrates that. He could have gone the other way, a la michael reynolds, and just said he gets hybrids, but chooses differently.

    No, Jenos has to grasp at news fragments and anecdotes because they give him a different truth to justify his actions. Hybrids are bad because he met a guy …

    So much for, as I began, rational economic agents.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @guthrum: Dude, the laws of conservation of energy don’t allow for what you’re claiming. And please don’t wave your hands and say that this special machine of yours is somehow sucking magnetic energy out of the Earth’s magnetic field and turning it into electricity.

    Interesting how the Patent Office requires a working model for any patent application that claims a perpetual motion machine. They’ve had enough of nitwit “inventors”.

  52. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Just did a cross country drive…

    Highest – $3.65 (michigan)

    Lowest – $2.88. (Colorado)

    Apparently, regressive local taxes have a huge impact on what we pay.

    Speculation drove the cost up last time, likely will do this again.

    Capitalism means getting the most for your product that you can. For gasoline, it means raising the price so high that people choose gas over everything else, but not so much that they quit buying.

    Regulation kicks in when the abuse becomes overtly evident.

    The push to $5.00 did not work last time, now.. Likely, but the actual supply (which is not sufficient for generations to come, but is a glut for us today) will also work against that push.

    anjin-san’s right … If behavior reflects intent, in the end, we really don’t give a rats about energy costs.

  53. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Now you’re just putting words in my mouth. Worse, they’re really dumb ones.

    I got no problems with people choosing to buy hybrids. They’re an immature technology, but someone has to buy them to develop it. They’re not for everyone, like my friend is learning.

    I think purely electric ones are foolish. They don’t save energy, they shift it to our already strained electrical grid. Plus, we don’t have the infrastructure to support them.

    But ban ’em? Hell, no. Let people make stupid decisions, and learn from them.

    What I am in favor of is choice. I prefer people to be able to make their own choices in as many places as they can. But it seems the left, out of an overwhelming compulsion to “protect” people from making “bad” choices, won’t let that happen.

    And worse, they expect people to be grateful for being “spared” such hard choices.

  54. @Jenos Idanian:

    Look, you’ve had a day to get some actual data. You didn’t come back with a survey of widespread failure, nor surveys of poor MPG.

    You stuck with your anecdote, and thus are worthy of all the scorn I put upon you.

    BTW, Edmunds, real car people, rank the Prius as a best used car bet. They wouldn’t do that if your BS was remotely true.

    Consumer Reports lists the Civic Hybrid the same way.

    Idiot.

  55. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I got no problems with people who want to buy hybrids. I got problems with people who think that their magic solutions are just perfect for everyone and get the law to make their solutions mandatory for everyone. I like my internal-combustion-only vehicle just fine, and I’ll stick with it, thank you. Until it becomes illegal.

    There was plenty of other nonsense in your posts, but this is just crazy talk. There are no words for astonishingly silly this idea truly is. Gasoline engines are in no danger of becoming illegal, even if hybrid / electric technology takes off in the next couple decades. Of course new cars may get better gas mileage in the future, but that is not the same as what you claim and seems like an odd thing to be getting all worked up over.

  56. matt says:

    @grumpy realist: I already told him that in a previous thread and he never responded. If you look up what he’s posting about you’ll find a bunch of pretty words but not one actual working model…

  57. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: Do you really want me to list the areas where people have lost the ability to make the “wrong” choice due to law? Seat belts, standard toilets, light bulbs, smoking (to a large extent)… to look at what the Obama administration has done so far on gas mileage standards and wonder if pure gasoline engines’ legal days are numbered is no great leap.

    Your citation of statistics on hybrid resale value show that they are good for many people. No argument. My point was that they are NOT good for all people, and there are people who should steer clear of them. No contradiction whatsoever. I don’t want one at this point. I recommend anyone who considers one (new or used) consider it very carefully, and take into account factors like the still-maturing technology of the battery pack.

    You seem quite content to outsource your judgment to others — “if Consumer Reports says it’s good, that’s all I need to know!” I say take that as one data point among many.

  58. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    No, we should say “some guy on the internets named Jenos has a friend who he says had a problem, and based on that he claims ‘still-maturing technology’ and that’s all I need to know.

    Idiot. Consumer reports had only about the 3rd data-driven analysis listed above. They report based on used car repair rates. If you are serious about quality, you won’t take that as ‘opinion,’ you’ll take it as statistical data.