Let’s stop lying, shall we?
The real reason gas prices will never really retreat is all about the green. And it’s not the green politicians keep telling us the oil companies are raking in.
Let’s go back a few years before the pandemic.
Before COVID relief funds hit the economy with all the precession targeting of flooding street gutters to water a dozen petunias.
And before the latest game of Russian roulette with oil prices courtesy of the war in the Ukraine.
There were hardcore advocates virtually demanding that gas prices rise to $8 a gallon to wean people off fossil fuels. The working theory was the cost of gas that high would send people scurrying to buy electric vehicles. Politicians pushed back. And for obvious reasons. Pain at the pump can hurt. In the past it’s been proven to be fatal to politicians.
And while past price surges that eventually settled down and retreated slightly hurt, it’s nothing like this. The average price of gas in California in June 2020 was $2.97 according to United States Energy Information Administration.
Today the average price is $6.35 a gallon. That is more than a $3 increase per gallon.
Prices have more than doubled. That has never happened before.
If you are in the Bay Area within a stone’s throw of an oil refinery, the price per gallon at the pump is even higher.
It inflates the pain.
If someone needs to travel 45 miles round trip for ongoing medical care such as chemo, it becomes a severe burden.
We all know how the price at the pump hurts regular commuters. And most of them do so by personal vehicle. Most, but not all, of such commuters have well-paying jobs. They have options to reduce discretionary spending or switching to cheaper products to counter inflation and astronomical gas prices.
The same can’t be said for the working poor such as farmworkers.
It makes no sense but gas prices and production aren’t that cut and dry.
And exclusively blaming and president — or any governor — for them is incorrect.
There are reasons set in motion years ago or by other forces plus our own habits and preferences that drive the market.
Doing anything that could soften gas prices in a meaningful way is not something that can be done overnight. It also would undermine green energy policy goals.
And even if they somewhat would help eventually, there is one big issue holding them back. It’s quite simple. If you were an energy firm would you be willing to bet the farm on a government promise that up until now has been opposing oil production and such that requires big investment?
The crisis, or economic adjustment, could make the public demand to back off on green policies in favor of fossil fuels fleeting.
It is risky to invest in more fossil fuel production when the government two years later could revert back to a 100 percent commitment to green power.
It would have the added bonus of putting energy companies investing to deliver more fossil fuel now behind the eight ball when the pendulum swings back putting them at a competitive disadvantage by investing I n technology the government essentially wants to outlaw.
The $8 a price scenario that green energy realists believed was needed but wasn’t materializing until now prompted the following steps among others to be taken:
• Mandating the end of the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles in California by 2035. (Other states are starting to follow that lead.)
• Mandating 100 percent renewable electric power.
• Using carbon taxes to punish fossil fuel use and generate money to underwrote green energy initiatives.
A funny thing happened on the way to the green energy revolution and $8 a gallon gasoline. It’s called hardcore inflation. It has sent the policy of electric vehicles soaring.
Rising material prices, coupled with general inflation, have pushed the clearest standard range version of the Tesla Model 3, the firm’s most affordable vehicle, up 23 percent to $46,990 since February 2021.
Similar increases are coming from other EV makers from GM to Rivian.
The switch to EVs envisioned by $8 a gallon gas is being negated by increased production costs that have little, if anything, to do with consumer demand.
As a result, all that is being inflicted is economic pain.
Clearly a more moderate approach — think embracing hybrid scenarios that are off the table due to the absolute decision to dump fossil fuels — could ease the economic pain.
It is also likely to get us closer to the expressed goal of almost reducing fossil fuel consumption.
Consumer preference that would change over time as EV and powering technology would get us there. Not by 2035 obviously, but sooner than one might think.
But there is no middle ground. On one side are those convinced the world is literally going to end if the issue isn’t forced. On the other side are those who act as if it is sacrilegious to wean off oil for the purpose of powering vehicles.
It didn’t require a government mandate to wean America off horses and the incredible amount of manure and urine they unleased daily on this nation’s cities and those in many other parts of the world.
Horses still exist today.
The analogy is worth noting as we traded one set of pollution issues and other drawbacks for another.
As it stands now thanks to the carbon and toxic pollution footprint of manufacturing specific parts such as batteries as well as disposing of them at the end of their useful life, we are creating other problems that will become pressing as well.
Combine all that, and the minimum $350 “gas rebate” bone California is tossing everyone making under $65,000 a year with lesser amounts as you go up the income ladder isn’t going to do that much.
Don’t misunderstand. It will be welcome. But is akin to California’s leadership buying into the notion a light sprinkle this summer will eradicate the pain of the drought. It’s not a solution. It won’t help much. But it may allow them to sidestep real solutions that may go against their green vision to enough of a degree they might survive the next election cycle.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.