If you paid any attention the last time you filled up your gas tank, the price to feed the Soccer-Mobile has gone up. The nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline went up over $.50 since the beginning of the year. Combined with our already flailing economy, it’s getting more and more difficult for average Americans to get around town without breaking the bank.
What’s to blame for the steady increase in prices? That depends on who you ask, and it’s really a combination of several factors. OPEC nations aren’t producing as much (so they can charge more, and more money is always good when you’re on the receiving end). Speculators are worried about supply chain disruption. And let’s not forget increased demand from around the world and environmental regulations that border on the ridiculous.
People who are paid to think about these things have come up with any number of solutions to our energy problems, and some of those plans actually inspire more questions and problems than they address. Some plans involve “energy independence” without really explaining how that will happen. Others encourage “green energy” options without discussing their inefficiency and massive additional cost. I’ve seen some that have nebulous terms like “regulation” and “legislation” without details or direction. Where are the common sense, simple plans? You know… the ones that might just work.
In case you were wondering, I actually have a plan. It’s not even a terribly original plan (I’ve talked with several friends about this over the years, and this is the current amalgamation of our thoughts.) It would require politicians to actually have backbones installed, so I’m not holding out much hope. First, the President would, by Executive Order, suspend most of the rules that prevent oil companies from building new refineries and suspend any and all ethanol mandates. Then offer the oil companies tax incentives to get the refineries built yesterday. Start drilling. Streamline the process to start drilling for oil offshore and on land. Build the Keystone Pipeline.
Ditto for the environmental impact statements for nuclear power plants. Once we get all of that up and going, then we can talk about researching alternative energy reasonably and not knee-jerk.
But, wait. There’s more.
One little known reason for gasoline prices being so high is because of the number of blends on the market. Each state (and even some cities) has their own pet standards for what blend can be sold in their area. (Some studies list at least 45 blends). At certain times of the year, the kind of acceptable blends changes, and refineries need to switch from one set of blends to another set, causing brief spikes in gas prices and supply problems.
Here’s my plan: The oil companies go to each state legislature and offer a compromise of… let’s say 6 blends (3 summer, 3 winter- what gas station offers more than 3 blends, anyway?), the same blends to each and every state. They can even tailor the blends to the most demanding standards in the nation (which would make the other 49 states actually have better blends than they normally have). By producing only 6 blends instead of the 45+boutique blends, refineries will be able to crank out more product for less cost. (Sure… areas that need to nitpick and meddle will be taken care of by smaller boutique refineries… at a higher cost, of course.)
Did you notice one little detail in the last paragraph? At no time did I say, “The federal government should…” Funny that. Oil companies will make more money this way, and consumers will pay less- it’s private sector compromising with state legislatures to get the job done.
What a concept–if the state legislatures would climb on board, that is. Come to think of it, except for the tax incentives to jump start the rest of my plan, my plan calls for less government interference, not a government fix. Which is why it will never happen…