Friday, January 30, 2009

The high price of cheap gasoline
by Tex Pitfield
Georgia Online News Service

Just a few months ago, you could not find gasoline at $4.25 a gallon. If lucky enough to find it, many of us driving larger vehicles were cut off at $100, the credit card limit at many stores, whether your tank was filled or not.

What joy to now buy the same amount for under $40.

But while it may appear to be a good thing, cheap gas is an onerous cloud hovering above us all.

Gasoline in many countries overseas is well over $10 a gallon, much of the cost taxes. As a result, the highways are superb, as well as the rail systems, especially in Europe. Meanwhile, our infrastructure is a mess.

While $1.70 per gallon gas is a good thing for our wallet, it will take an extended amount of time for it to have any benefit on the economy. Growth will undoubtedly be dismal for a number of months, more likely several years.

Meanwhile, we will pay a high price for cheap gas. At $4.25 a gallon, we all focused on fuel efficient vehicles and alternative energy, electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells and solar and wind power.

Many of those alternatives have become, almost overnight, economically unviable.

Bio-fuel has become a non-event simply because it is now so much more expensive than fossil fuel. Ethanol producers can't give their product away, despite massive federal government subsidies. Some producers are already in financial straits.

Oil refineries are reducing production for the simple fact they can't make money with oil at its current cheap level. Many of our potential new energy sources, such as tar sands in Canada, are no longer cost-competitive.

And so we are creating future shortages, although it may take a long time to be realized. The speculative world (the same guys who drove crude to $146 a barrel this summer) are now filling huge crude oil carrier ships and anchoring them offshore, waiting for the price increase and their next fortune to be made, once again at our expense and to the detriment of the economy.

As we gleefully fill our tanks at unseen cheap prices, let's not forget that we are far from out of the woods.

Tex Pitfield is the president of Saraguay Petroleum, a gasoline distributor in Atlanta.   [full bio]


Editor's note: Hello, Georgia! For the next several weeks, we'll be sending you content by some of the most outstanding journalists in the state, most of them veterans of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Creative Loafing and other news organizations. The list includes Tom Baxter, Bill Osinski, Lyle Harris and John Sugg. Additionally, you'll find a diversity of opinion (edited by former AJC editor David Beasley) from the likes of Hollis Gillespie and Ralph Reed. You are free to use it as you wish; just give us credit. You can use it in print, you can publish it on the web.

Are there stories you want us to pay particular attention to? How can we make GONSO even better?

We're listening, so give us a call at 800-891-3459 or write me at john.sugg@georgiaonlinenews.org.

John F. Sugg, Executive Editor


Today's GONSO

The high price of cheap gasoline

by Tex Pitfield
Just a few months ago, you could not find gasoline at $4.25 a gallon. If lucky enough to find it, many of us driving larger vehicles were cut off at $100, the credit card limit at many stores, whether your tank was filled or not.

What joy to now buy the same amount for under $40.

But while it may appear to be a good thing, cheap gas is an onerous cloud hovering above us all.

Full Story

Plan for best use of Chattahoochee’s water is criticized

by Maggie Lee
As Lake Lanier's summer fringe of crusty red dirt displaces boats and swimmers as a symbol of summer, and metro Atlanta heads back to court to fight Florida and Alabama for a bigger gulp of shared water, it seems clear that the state would be wise to ratchet down Chattahoochee River water use.
Full Story

State parks have "great value" – but not to budget writers

by Wendy Parker
Georgia's budget crunch has brought to the forefront a debate about the state parks system that has been brewing quietly and runs far deeper than funding concerns.

Philosophical differences have arisen over how some of the state's 63 parks, recreational facilities and historic sites should be operated, as Appropriations committees in the General Assembly begin to dig into the details of the upcoming budget.

Full Story

Tomorrow's Budget
Peanut catastrophe makes clear one thing: Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin's retirement is long overdue
by J. Randolph Evans
Pain Relief at the Capitol
by Hollis Gillespie
Bitter Tea In Richland: Town's water contamination highlights infrastructure problems statewide
by Bill Osinski
It may be the law – but is it just and do our judges care?
by E. Wycliff Orr

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