|April 21, 2006|
Response to the 'Don't Buy Gas' Emails
by Woody Hastings
A few thoughts about the email circulating regarding a strategy for reducing gasoline prices ...
We in the U.S. have always paid artificially low prices for gasoline. If U.S. government subsidies were removed and externalized costs included, we would be paying well over $10 per gallon for gas at the pump. This does not even take into account costs that cannot be translated into dollars such as the loss of life and limb in oil wars, disastrous damage to the global climate, and destruction of communities and the natural environment where oil is extracted.
People pay dearly for oil, but not U.S. consumers who pay a price per gallon way below the value of what is being consumed. We should be willing to pay the true cost of oil, but to address these damages, not to line the pockets of oil barrens.
I agree that we shouldn't buy gas from ExxonMobil; they are certainly among the worst oil companies in the world. And I agree that oil companies should not be permitted to reap obscene profits. But I do not agree with a strategy of avoiding particular brands of gasoline in an attempt to make gas prices go down. Low gas prices just trigger increased usage and waste of gas. Better for us to reduce our gas usage altogether.
There's at least one benefit to gas prices being higher for U.S. consumers. It provides an incentive to curb use of gas and makes alternatives more economically attractive. Not all alternatives are good, but many good non-petroleum-based alternatives exist and it is merely a matter of political will to redirect our nation’s resources to implement them.
Another factor that cannot be ignored is that the world is at or near the global oil extraction peak. Soon production will not be able to meet demand no matter how fast we pump, no matter how many countries the U.S. bombs. Other than a few insignificant ups and downs, gas prices will only rise from here on out.
So what to do?
Walk, ride a bike, use public transit, and if you must drive, drive a fuel efficient vehicle and carpool. If you want to do even more, investigate non-petroleum alternatives.
If and when you must buy gas, I suggest that you buy it from CITGO, Venezuela's state oil company. They re-direct most profits away from the multinationals to social programs that benefit the people of Venezuela, nearby countries, and even some low income communities in the U.S.
I propose that email-organized collective mass actions be focused on creating the political will to redirect our nation’s resources to implementing non-petroleum-based alternatives.
I offer the following links that you can use to research some of the points I made above.
For info about the true cost of gasoline start with:
Union of Concerned Scientists
For info about global peak oil extraction start with:
www.peakoil.net Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas
For info regarding alternative fuels and vehicles start with:
www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/ US Dept of Energy – Alternative Fuels Data Center
For info about the scientific consensus regarding global climate change start with:
www.ipcc.ch Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
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