Reuters Energy analyst John Kemp has published a timeline of events that explain the latest crash in crude oil prices. As energy prices enter a new era, we’ll be focusing more and more on this sector, and how it relates to the automobile.
Last week, I bought gasoline for less than $2/gallon for the first time in probably more than a decade. A tankful for my ’08 Civic (stick) cost me sixteen whole dollars and fifty-three cents.
Now two leading thinkers, one from each party, have called for taking the opportunity of low gas prices to slap a tax on petroleum—or on carbon.
In the 1966 Spaghetti Western classic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the three principal characters come together in what is considered the most iconic standoff in cinematic history. Three parties hostile to each other and the first one to shoot is the most likely loser.
The recent fall in fuel prices isn’t just an opportunity for Americans to demonstrate their collective inability to remember the events of even the recent past; it’s also a decisive hammerblow to E85 plants and retailers across the country.
This has to be the case, right?
As of 3:03 P.M., a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil is sitting at $49.90 USD. For $42.48, you can get a fifth of Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky - decent stuff, but nothing fancy. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy myself a Hellcat.
The auto world may be on an extended vacation thanks to the timing of New Year’s day, but the energy markets are still moving. Matt Smith of the Energy Burrito blog (and energy firm Schneider Electric) discusses the impact of lower gasoline prices for the American consumer. According to Smith, the savings amount to $378 million per day, or $80 billion annually.
Last week in a speech at Daimler owned Freightliner truck plant, President Obama said that the new 55mpg CAFE standards will save a typical American family $8,000 a year on gasoline. That would be great news to most American drivers if it were true but the president took political science and law courses in college, not math. Or maybe his math isn’t off. (Read More…)
“The electric things have their life too. Paltry as those lives are.”
Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
At the High School I attended, progress reports were never a good thing. Halfway through each term, students who were averaging a D or lower would receive a print-out of their grade accompanied by a line from the teacher explaining how the miscreant in question was failing to live up to expectations. True to form, the White House’s just-released “One Year Progress Report” [PDF] on President Obama’s “Blueprint For A Secure Energy Agenda” includes some devastating evidence of abject failure. But unlike my post-progress report conversations with the parental stakeholders, Obama has a lot more to explain to voters than a simple “insufficient homework turned in.”
After spending thirty years and $45 billion dollars encouraging the use of ethanol the United States Congress has adjourned for the year without extending tax subsidies to the to ethanol industry. The subsidy currently costs taxpayers $6 billion a year. A related import tariff on Brazilian ethanol was also allowed to expire. With a wide group of critics, cutting across political and ideological lines, the tax break had become unpopular in Washington. Business interests in the food and cattle industry as well as environmentalists opposed the law which paid 45 cents per gallon to fuel blenders to subsidize their costs for producing E10 gasoline/ethanol blend. The subsidy resulting in corn being diverted from feedlots and food processors to ethanol production, raising the cost of many foodstuffs. The environmental movement now opposes corn ethanol as a fuel it because it considers the fuel and its production to be “dirty”, in the words of Friends of the Earth.
The Japanese tsunami impacts everything, from cars to toilet paper. Most Japanese car makers were closed since after the catastrophe and will remain closed at least until mid April. Many paper mills are in the affected area, and all paper, from glossy stock to the softer kind, is in short supply. Publishers of Japanese illustrated pulp fiction have canceled the printed version and direct their readers to the Internet instead. Tokyo corporations battle a wave of toilet rolls vanishing from their restrooms, from where they find a way to the toire at home. While these may be temporary outages, the lack of stable electrical power emerges more and more as the biggest impediment to the recovery of the Japanese industry. It will affect you and your car, in one way or the other. (Read More…)