Showing posts with label Gasoline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gasoline. Show all posts

'You do what you have to do' to when it comes to gas prices

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From an article by Catherine Izerda on Janesville's

Local residents and travelers say the price of gas is changing their habits, but they also say there is not much they can do. Work, school and family obligations won’t lessen because gas prices go up.

Fuel prices started their steady climb in August 2010, when the state average was $2.72 a gallon. By Jan. 1, 2011, the price was $3.12. From there, prices took off, rocketing rapidly upward.

On Sunday, Rosemauri Katz stopped at the Lions Quick Mart on Milton Avenue to fill up. Katz was traveling from her home in Duluth, Minn., to visit family in Indianapolis.

“It does have an impact on your day-to-day life, but you do what you have to do,” Katz said.

It usually costs her about $65 in gas to make the trip to Indianapolis. She expects this trip to cost about $150.

“I know politicians are dealing with a lot of economic issues,” Katz said. “But this affects the economy, too.”

Katz said she and her husband hope to sell their home in Duluth and move to be closer to her family, eliminating the expense and time involved in such trips.

Angela Werle said her family members are changing their driving habits.

“My husband works in Milwaukee,” she said as she filled up. “He’s been driving our kids’ car. It’s an old Toyota and gets better gas mileage than his truck.”

He is also tuning up his motorcycle—an even more fuel-efficient vehicle—so he can ride that to work when it’s warmer.

Werle wishes she could ride her bike to work. She lives near Craig High School and works in Milton.

“Highway 26 is just too busy; it’s too dangerous,” Werle said as she finished putting $51.50 worth of gas into her car.

While rising gas prices are causing middle class pain, some low-income people have been immobilized by them.

Susana Hernandez is a math teacher and coordinator for Project AHEAD at UW-Rock County.

Hernandez works with students from high-risk populations. Some have criminal histories, have limited educations or only GEDs and face other struggles.

“It’s funny you should ask about gas prices,” Hernandez said. “I’ve given out $354 worth of bus tickets to students.”

The tickets are for the Beloit-Janesville Express.

Last year, her bus tickets “stash” carried her through the whole year and then some.

Gas could hit $5 a gallon in 2012, former oil exec warns

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From an article by Bill Novak in The Capital Times:

Fueling up on New Year's Eve might be more expensive this year than ever before.

But it could seem cheap compared to what's coming by 2012, according to an industry analyst and a former president of Shell Oil.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, predicted that average national prices for regular will be between $3.25 and $3.75 a gallon this spring in an article in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

And John Hofmeister, a former Shell president, told the Platts News Service that consumers should brace for $5 a gallon gas by 2012.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.049 on Tuesday, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report, only a few tenths of a penny away from the all-time record year-end high of $3.053 a gallon set on Dec. 31, 2007.

In Madison, prices for regular range from $2.98 to $3.12 a gallon on Tuesday, according to

Nationally, prices are 44 cents higher than a year ago.

"We will end the year with the highest prices ever for this week," Kolza told the Times, adding that there will be a break in prices this winter before they rise again in the spring.

After the year-end record in 2007, gas prices kept rising to the all-time record high of $4.11 a gallon nationally in July 2008.

AAA said the average price for regular in Wisconsin was $3.087 a gallon on Tuesday, up nine cents from a week ago.

Group releases recommendations to cut pollution

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Expansion will save homeowners and businesses million

MADISON -- After more than a year of meetings and studies, the Midwestern Governors Association's (MGA) Low Carbon Fuel Advisory Group has released a report detailing a regionally coordinated cleaner fuels policy. These recommendations are designed to lower pollution in transportation fuels.

"The MGA report shows that cleaner fuel policies can be developed in ways that take advantage of our region’s economic and natural resource strengths and move Wisconsin away from the fossil fuels we import to our state at a cost of $13 billion a year," says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director, Clean Wisconsin.

While California and other states have already adopted similar policies, these recommendations differ in key respects. For example, they propose to measure greenhouse gas emissions for transportation fuels in a way that does not penalize the use of food-based crops for fuel, such as corn ethanol. A decision on evaluating potential market effects of food-based crops would be delayed until there is greater scientific consensus.

The Midwest is the leading producer of corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel, both of which can contribute to cuts in carbon pollution. The region is also a leader in the development of next-generation, clean-burning biofuels, from sources like wood waste and biogas, which benefits local economies. Wisconsin leads the country in farm-based biogas energy that turns cow manure, cheese wastewater and other byproducts into a valuable fuel for natural gas vehicles. And, of course, the region is the nation’s leading automotive and automotive components manufacturer. For instance, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls is building car batteries and electric drivetrains for vehicles such as the Ford Transit electric van. Electricity qualifies as a low-carbon fuel due to the greater efficiency of electric drivetrains.

"Moving to lower carbon fuels not only reduces dependence on imported oil but helps develop new economic opportunities in the advanced biofuel and electric vehicle industries," says Reopelle. "The recent announcement that United Ethanol of Milton will be installing a biogas system to reduce fossil fuel consumption will lower the carbon footprint of ethanol fuel produced in Wisconsin."

Some proposals were recommended for state or region-wide action, but the Advisory Group made recommendations for federal policymakers as well. The Advisory Group included state policymakers, business leaders, including the oil and gas industries, academic researchers and environmental groups.

MGA asked the Advisory Group to develop mutually acceptable recommendations for action to cut the carbon pollution from transportation fuels by 10 percent in 10 years. A technical evaluation found that nearly a 15-percent cut in pollution could be achieved in the same timeframe.

Make a few changes in your driving habits to save money

Friday, August 27, 2010

From Madison Gas & Electric:

A few changes in your driving habits could save you money and gasoline. Hypermilers say it's easy... and anyone can do it.You don't have to drive an electric car or hybrid to drive more sustainably. In this story, we hit the road with an expert hypermiler to learn what it takes to go the extra

From Canada to the Coulee Region: Where our gas comes from

Thursday, March 11, 2010

From an article by Richard Mial in the La Crosse Tribune:

On a map of northern Canada, Fort McMurray marks where the highway ends. But it’s the starting point for much of the fuel that runs vehicles in the Coulee Region.

The sands of north Alberta — not the Middle East — provide most of the petroleum that becomes gasoline sold in the La Crosse area.

A pipeline channels that Canadian crude to the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minn.

La Crosse-based Kwik Trip is among its primary customers. A fleet of 110 tanker trucks ferries gasoline and diesel fuel 24 hours a day from the refinery to the company’s 363 convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

The Tribune traced petroleum’s path from the forests of Canada to the pumps.

It’s a route that keeps the region from relying on crude oil from overseas. But it also has raised questions about the environmental costs, both to Canada and Wisconsin.

Oil sands
Alberta’s oil sands region yields about half of the petroleum converted into local gasoline. Production averages about 1.5 million barrels a day, and that’s expected to go up to 1.8 million by 2012, according to estimates by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The mixture of sand and thick, tar-like bitumen is mined from the earth with huge shovels, many of them Wisconsin-made.

Large amounts of water are used to separate the oil from the sand — about two to three gallons of water for every barrel of oil, said Don Thompson, president of the Oil Sands Developers Group. Natural gas-fired power plants provide the electricity needed for the energy-intensive process.

Large-scale oil sands mining in the Fort McMurray area dates back to the late 1960s through the Great Canadian Oil Sands, now known as Suncor Energy Inc., said Thompson, a former oil company executive who now lives in Calgary.

Another company, Syncrude, began mining the oil sands in the late 1970s, Thompson said in a telephone interview.

But oil sand production remained limited until the price of a barrel of oil rose enough to justify the expense of oil sand mining, and the quality of technology improved, Thompson said.

Now, about 208 square miles of northern Alberta have been cleared for mines, tailing ponds and “upgraders,” plants that provide some refining before the oil is sent by pipeline to the United States and elsewhere.

A story in National Geographic Magazine includes dramatic photos of tar sands mining.

Automakers, Obama announce mileage, pollution plan

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From an Associated Press article by Ken Thomas, published in The Capital Times:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's new fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks will save billions of barrels of oil but are expected to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle by the time the plan is complete in 2016.

Obama on Tuesday planned to announce the first-ever national emissions limits for vehicles, as well as require an overall or industry average fuel efficiency standard at 35.5 miles per gallon.

Carol Browner, the White House energy and climate director, publicly confirmed the new initiative in appearances on morning network news shows, calling it a "truly historic" occasion and saying tougher standards are "long overdue."

The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards — with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting the single national standard they've been seeking and more time to make the changes.

Obama's proposed change in rules would for the first time combine pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road, said senior administration officials speaking anonymously, ahead of the announcement.

New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by the end of the program, they said.

DOT needs to hear about peak oil

Friday, January 02, 2009

From the Wisconsin Department of Public Transportation:

WisDOT has scheduled a series of public meetings in numerous locations throughout the state. All meetings will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Residents are invited to attend to learn about Connections 2030, ask questions, and submit comments.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Alliant Energy Center, Mendota Room
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison, WI
People concerned about "business as usual" from the Department might want to attend to explain the consequences of peak oil and the need to begin preparing for the day when petroleum will be neither as cheap nor as plentiful.

Doyle supports return of cash cow for highway construction

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From an article by Jason Stein and Mark Pitsch in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The state should consider returning to automatic increases in its gas tax, Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday.

A return to the so-called "indexing" of the tax would represent a reversal for the Democratic governor. In the face of a widespread concern over rising gas prices in December 2005, Doyle and the Republican-controlled Legislature repealed the yearly increases in the state's gas tax, the second-highest in the nation.

But the state is now facing a $5.4 billion projected budget shortfall as well as challenges for the state road fund, which uses gas tax money to pay for highways and bridges. And some business groups have signaled a willingness to return to the automatic increases.

"The simple fact is that where Wisconsin went, where Republicans took us, is unsustainable for transportation (infrastructure), where you say, that's basically it on the gas tax, regardless of what the costs are and what the needs are," Doyle said in a year-end interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. "I think that indexing had served us pretty well for a long period of time."

Oil may lose rank as cheapest energy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From an Associated Press article by posted in The Daily Reporter:

The Woodlands, TX (AP) — Over the next 20 years or so, oil and natural gas will lose top ranking as the world's most affordable energy sources, according to a survey of energy executives released Wednesday.

Deeper wells in more inhospitable places, both political and geological, have altered presumptions of doing business in the oil patch.

Nearly three out of four executives and managers of 52 surveyed last month by Deloitte LLP said oil and gas are the cheapest available energy sources for now, though only 23 percent believe that will be the case in 25 years.

The sampling revealed a growing concern about the sustainability of oil and natural gas in the coming years.

"Clearly, the oil and gas professionals involved in our survey are starting to think about the nation's transition to renewable energy and other alternative fuels," said Gary Adams, vice chairman of Deloitte's oil and gas practice.

Run cars on green electricity, not natural gas

Monday, November 24, 2008

From an analysis of natural gas for vehicle fuel by Jonathan G. Dorn posted on Earth Island Institute:

On economics, driving with electricity is far cheaper than driving with gasoline or natural gas. The average new U.S. car can travel roughly 30 miles on a gallon of gasoline, which cost $3.91 in July 2008 (the latest date for which comparable price data for natural gas is available). Traveling the same distance with natural gas cost around $2.51, while with electricity, using the existing electrical generation mix, it cost around 73¢. . . .

Just like oil, natural gas is a finite, nonrenewable resource. This means that switching to a fleet of NGVs would be at best a short-term fix. As natural gas becomes more difficult to obtain and more costly, a fleet of NGVs and the 20,000 or so natural gas refueling stations that would be required to support them would simply be abandoned. . . .

Choosing natural gas to power our vehicles would send the United States down the same expensive and inefficient path that created our addiction to foreign oil and our dependence on a resource that will ultimately run out. Choosing green electricity can take us in a new direction—one that leads to improved energy security and a stabilizing climate.

Palin's Folly

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
October 7, 2008

What three things do Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela have in common? The first commonality is that they are among the top 10 leading exporters of petroleum worldwide, which is another way of saying that they are the biggest accumulators of foreign cash on the planet.

Commonality No. 2: Gasoline prices in those nations are lower than they are in the United States. The swollen river of revenues that flows into their national treasuries enables these governments to subsidize the price of motor fuel sold to their citizens. In Iran, the portion of federal revenues spent on maintaining price caps on gasoline approaches an astonishing 40%. . . .

Considering the finite nature of their chief exports, these nations would do well to reinvest their windfalls into domestically developable sources of wind and solar energy, to name two energy sources that do not have decline curves associated with them. However, that brings up Commonality No. 3, which is their shared aversion to all energy sources that have the capacity to displace oil and natural gas in some capacity. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar certainly figure prominently in that category.

It is nothing short of amazing to watch these nations squander their colossal fortunes on ephemeral social control measures that only hasten the drawdown of their most economically valuable resource. Subsidizing gasoline is simply a wealth distribution scheme that discounts the future for the present. Its legacy will be to leave billions of people without the capital to invest in building up a sustainable energy future.

Under more enlightened regimes, these nations would be plowing their retained earnings into technologies that harvest locally available self-replenishing energy sources to serve future citizens. They would make it a point of emulating Germany, a nation bereft of native oil and gas reserves but certainly not lacking in foresight and political will. Cloudy skies and weak winds notwithstanding, Germany is deploying considerable amounts of social and financial capital to retool its energy infrastructure so that it can take full advantage of its modest solar ration.

In contrast to Germany, there is not a single commercial wind turbine operating in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Russia. While Mexico and Iran look like go-getters by comparison, their efforts to date amount to less than one-half of Wisconsin’s current wind generating capacity. Moreover, even at this late date, oil-exporting nations have invested only a piddling amount of their capital investments in solar energy.

To demonstrate the aversion that oil-exporting jurisdictions have towards renewable energy, consider the example of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. According to Michael T. Klare, who covers defense and foreign policy for The Nation, Alaska is a “classic petrostate,” featuring a political system that is “geared toward the maximization of oil ‘rents’--royalties and other income derived from energy firms--to the neglect of other economic activities.”

Among the economic activities neglected is renewable energy development. Like Russia, with which Alaska shares a “narrow maritime border,” Alaska does not have a single utility-scale wind turbine in operation, a rather remarkable statistic given its sprawling size and a wind resource that in certain locations can be accurately described as “screaming.” But as long oil revenues are sufficient to allow Alaska to dispense with a state income tax, renewable energy development will remain in a deep freeze.

In a recent article, Klare recounts a talk Palin gave at a February 2008 meeting of the National Governors Association, where she said that “the conventional resources we have can fill the gap between now and when new technologies become economically competitive and don’t require subsidies.”

When asked to elaborate on that point, Palin’s antipathy towards renewable energy was revealed. “I just don’t want things to get out of hand with incentives for renewables, particularly since they imply subsidies, while ignoring the fuels we already have on hand,” Palin said.

Had those words been uttered by the Secretary General of OPEC, they would have been forgotten in a matter of seconds. Coming from someone who could become the next vice president, however, is cause for consternation, in that she is clearly recommending a course of action that would invariably lead to greater dependency on oil.

Certainly, the Palin prescription would reverse the decline in oil revenues propping up Alaska’s state government. But the amount of petroleum that could be extracted in 2020 from Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf is trifling compared with current U.S. imports of Mexican crude. Even if a mini-surge of petroleum materialized as a result of a McCain-Palin energy policy that put Alaska’s wishes above the best interests of the other 49 states, it wouldn’t even compensate for the declining yields from such aging oilfields as Cantarell or Prudhoe Bay, let alone achieve the chimerical goal of energy independence.

Like the other petrostates of the world, Alaska has no Plan B to fall back on when its endowment of fossil fuels is no longer sufficient to support a state government in the style to which it is accustomed. Let us hope and pray that the voters of the other 49 states see the “drill, baby, drill” mantra for the folly it is, and reject it out of hand in favor of an energy policy that stresses energy security through conservation and renewable energy development.

Sources and complete article here.

Another strike against oil: Mother Nature's wrath

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From an editorial in The Northwestern (Oshkosh):

It was certainly no butterfly. But hard to dispute we aren't feeling the "flap of its wings."

The spiking variations in gas prices around the Oshkosh area and the Fox Valley in the wake of Hurricane Ike supply more motivation to pursue alternative energy sources. Obviously, Mother Nature hasn't a care about the location of domestic oil rigs and refineries.

On Monday, the price of an unleaded gallon of gasoline was on its way up, anywhere from $3.80 at one Oshkosh filling station to $4.20 at another in Fond du Lac. If you don't like Ike, we understand. It's having an impact on gasoline prices everywhere.

Do our congressional and presidential candidates care to talk about this most recent and potent shortcoming of oil and its production as the rhetoric heats up on more drilling in North America's hurricane alley?

Does the latest pain at the pump everyday people in places like Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Appleton endure matter – places far from hurricane territory yet places, as of Monday, trying to fathom a 40-cent variation in surging unleaded gasoline rates?

Ike's wrath is only the latest reminder of all the limitation that comes with oil and our addiction to it. News flash: Its production and price are at the mercy of monster storms … in addition to Middle Eastern interests that control it and don't share our purest, most democratic, most fundamental human values. Not to mention its limited supply globally… not to mention the pollution it causes. Only an addict would tolerate all of these unhealthy drawbacks to feed his cravings.

For a nation that put human beings on the moon almost 40 years ago, our approach to pushing for renewable, alternative, clean sources of energy is weak, and Ike's wake reminds us of that.

Our push for things like hydrogen-fired, clean-burning automobiles is anemic when it should be surging, itself the focus — the raging eye — of a presidential campaign and election. Real leadership and real solutions on alternative energy have been relegated to a few lines of a political speech, no focused, attainable energy challenge laid before the feet of the American people other than unformulated energy independence benchmarks.

One of nation’s largest Hummer stores to shut its doors

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From a blog post by John D. Stoll on the site of the Wall Street Journal:

General Motors’s quest to sell its Hummer division may get a bit tougher after Tuesday.

That is when Dan Towbin–whose dealerships grabbed national attention as the backdrop for an A&E television series called “King of Cars“–will close his Hummer dealership, one of the brand’s largest stores in the U.S. and the only one in Las Vegas. It is at least the eighth Hummer dealer closing this year, nearly a 5% decline in the brand’s U.S. dealer base.

As GM tries to sell the Hummer brand, dealership closings are one of a handful of black marks the auto maker carries into negotiations with potential buyers. Critics have suggested it will be hard for GM to sell Hummer, and there is little good news for the brand–at least in the core U.S. market–to counter that skepticism.

This closing is notable because of where it is taking place and who is pulling the plug. It is, after all, one thing for enviro-friendly people in San Francisco–another city that recently lost a key Hummer dealership–to shun the brand. It is entirely different when Sin City decides the vehicles are too excessive. Towbin said Las Vegas is a custom fit for Hummer. “It’s all about bling and it’s in the desert,” he said.

And Towbin is an uber-Hummer enthusiast. He credits a Hummer with saving his life, and he counts a Hummer as his daily driver. “I feel very aligned with the brand,” he said. “Neither General Motors nor I wanted to go this way.”

But to move Hummers off the lot in August, buyers in the U.S. received an average of $8,861 in various incentives for each vehicle sold, according to Prices start at roughly $31,000 for the base H3 model run to $64,000 for the luxury H2 model. (Towbin says he was offering $6,000 in incentives, not including GM’s employee-pricing discount, hurting profit margins.) By contrast, BMW’s Mini spent $80 for each vehicle sold, Toyota’s Scion spent $131. Hummer discounts represent 22.6% of the price of the vehicle–the highest in the industry, says. And still Hummer sales are down 47% this year, the largest decline of any brand, according to Autodata Corp.

As gas prices rise, you gotta drive hurt

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

From a guest column by Rich Eggleston in The Capital Times:

A resumption of offshore drilling is supported by almost three out of five Americans, who are as anxious as the Republicans in Congress for a quick fix for high energy prices.

Politicians have enough perks that they don't have to worry about $4-a-gallon gasoline, but they do have an election coming up, and they'll do almost anything to prevent the oil companies from losing their grip on Congress.

But we can no longer really believe the folks in politics can solve our problems, so maybe we should rewrite the old adage in athletics to, "You gotta drive hurt."

Few of us are masochists, though. And we all know that the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to avoid the hurt is to use less energy. Turn off the lights we aren't using. Get on the phone or the Internet instead of into our cars to go shopping. Carpool.

Ah, but Americans desperately want a miracle drug to fight the pain. And Congress and candidates, naively thinking Americans still believe them, desperately want to convince people they can provide that miracle drug.

How about applying some witches' ointment to our hurt, like offshore drilling? John McCain says it will work, and we ought to believe him, since he understands economics about as well as Daisy Duck.

The Energy Information Administration says offshore drilling could, in about 20 years, add about two-tenths of 1 percent to world oil production.

The effect on gas prices, according to those energy gurus? "Insignificant."

Suburban flight: Commuting to work less attractive as gas prices soar

Monday, August 18, 2008

From an article by Mike Ivey in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Debbie Kelly and her husband, Tom, have been living the dream for years.

They've got a cozy home nestled in the Wyoming Valley, the bucolic Iowa County setting where architect Frank Lloyd Wright drew his inspiration.

Deer graze in the yard. Orioles flock to the bird feeder. When nights are clear, the Milky Way lights the sky.

It's a little slice of heaven -- save for the 45-mile commute to work.

It wasn't a big financial drain driving into Madison, even as gasoline passed $2 a gallon in 2004 or $3 last summer. But for Debbie Kelly, $4 fuel has been the tipping point.

Now, instead of driving all the way to her nursing job at the Dean Clinic on Fish Hatchery Road, Kelly will often park in Verona and ride her bicycle the rest of the way. One night a week, she camps in the back of her pickup truck at Lake Farm County Park, south of the Beltline on the shores of Lake Waubesa.

"They've got the hottest showers," said Kelly, 54, a mother of three.

Kelly admits she's thought about moving closer to the city. The time spent driving and the rising costs are beginning to wear. But she said her husband isn't budging.

"Tom will probably go with the property," she said. "I don't think he'll ever leave the valley."

Whether high fuel prices are going to affect where people in Wisconsin live remains to be seen. It's not that simple to just pick up and move, especially for those who already own a home.

Still, it's a question crossing the minds of many who chose to buy a home miles from their place of employment or school.

"It really hit me when it cost nearly $100 to fill up the truck last week," said Rich Eggleston, who lives in Fitchburg and commutes to his job downtown at the Alliance of Cities.

And there are early indications that life in the suburbs is starting to look less attractive to home buyers.

Wanted: Citizens who seek to do what is right

Monday, August 11, 2008

From a letter to the editor of The Capital Times by Hans Noeldner, peak oil activist:

The Washington Post recently printed yet one more article in a recent spate of news stories on sprawl. As usual, the issue was framed as one of gas prices forcing changes rather than responsible human beings making proactive choices.

While I'm glad to see another column in a major newspaper on the topic of commuting, suburbia, and high gas prices, here is the kind of ubiquitous headline my heart longs to see: "Sense of patriotism and earth stewardship apply brakes to hypergrowth and hyperconsumption."

America does not need consumers who merely react to prices. She needs citizens who seek to do what is right for our heirs -- unilaterally, vigorously and without being forced by laws and/or the market. Burning gasoline like crazy when it was "cheap at the pump" was NEVER a good idea. In truth, even $4 gas doesn't begin to include all the external costs.

Gas prices cause problems for City of Madison

Friday, August 08, 2008

From an article by Kristin Czubkowski in The Capital Times:

Rising gas prices will mean tough budget choices for Madison soon.

Madison Comptroller Dean Brasser said many city agencies like Madison Metro and city fleet services are already over budget this year because of fuel prices. This means that sometime before the end of the year, they will have to go back in front of the City Council to either request more money or to shift funds within the budget to cover for high fuel prices.

The city has developed the deficit even with the benefit of paying lower prices than individuals do at the pump.

On average, Brasser said city employees were spending $3.78 per gallon on gasoline in May compared to $2.47 per gallon in May 2007. Gasoline is usually cheaper for the city to buy than the average Madison driver because it uses a competitive bidding process and buys gasoline in bulk.

"We are retail customers like anyone else, except we buy in large quantities, and we have underground storage tanks ourselves in a number of locations around town. So in a way we're buying truckloads like a gas station would, but the purchase relationship is very different," he said.

The gas price squeeze will extend into next year, too. With fuel prices not predicted to drop anytime soon, Brasser projected that fuel costs would raise the city budget by $1.5 million if budget cuts were not made. That's about two-thirds of a percent of Madison's budget for 2008, which was $224.5 million.

For 2009, Brasser said agencies will likely have to make an "educated guess" on fuel prices for the next year.

"No one has a crystal ball and is able to forecast particularly in this kind of a market," he said.

Gas prices change views on energy

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

From an Associated Press article by H. Josef Hebert in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- High gasoline prices have dramatically changed Americans' views on energy and the environment with more people now viewing oil drilling and new power plants as a greater priority than energy conservation than they did five months ago, according to a new survey.

The poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center shows nearly half of those surveyed - or 47 percent - now rate energy exploration, drilling and building new power plants as the top priority, compared with 35 percent who believed that five months ago.

The Pew poll, conducted in late June, showed the number of people who consider energy conservation as more important declined by 10 percentage points since February from a clear majority to 45 percent. People are now about evenly split on which is more important.

The number of people who said they considered increasing energy supplies more important than protecting the environment increased from 54 percent in February to 60 percent and the number of people who favor oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge also increased.

Time's right for rail

Monday, June 16, 2008

From an editorial in The Capital Times (Madison):

The impossible happened this week -- the U.S. Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to fully fund Amtrak for the next five years. There's even some matching money to help states set up or expand rail service.

It's amazing what four-buck-a-gallon gas will do.

Amtrak's funding package even got the votes of some of its biggest critics, like Florida Republican Rep. John Mica, who admitted for the first time that Americans need some transportation choices.

"Nothing could be more fitting to bring before Congress today, on a day when gasoline has reached $4.05 a gallon across the United States on average," he announced on the floor.

The two houses need to patch over some minor differences in the bills they passed, but Amtrak backers are confident that won't be any trouble.

The biggest trouble, though, may still come from the White House. President Bush, who has attempted to dismantle the national rail system throughout his presidency, has pledged to veto the bill. Fortunately, both the House and Senate passed the funding by veto-proof margins. Unless Republicans switch because they don't want to "embarrass" their president, Bush's veto will be moot.

Frankly, the president should be embarrassed. His stand on public transportation has marginalized him on the issue. He continues to insist that Amtrak should be dismantled and pieces of it turned over to private companies to run short-line routes. That might work in highly urbanized areas, but without government subsidies the vast expanse of America would be left with no rail service of any kind.

But Bush has been far from alone. There has long been a mind-set against subsidizing rail transportation. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have never had trouble subsidizing the building of more and bigger highways and underwriting the cost of airports and sleek terminals, but when it came to rail, they sang a different tune.

Had we adequately funded Amtrak so that it could have improved trackage in congested areas and run more than one train a day between big cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, for example, the country would today have a reasonable alternative to $4gas and gridlocked and unreliable airports. We might even have had rail service to Madison. . . .

Gasoline consumption declines

From an article by Brian Reisinger in the Wausau Daily Herald:

As soaring gas prices take their toll, consumers in central Wisconsin seem ready to do something about it.

Riiser Energy, which owns 26 convenience stores primarily in central Wisconsin, has seen overall fuel sales decline a "significant" amount in recent months compared to the previous year, president and chief executive officer Jim Kemerling said.

"I think people are cutting back," Kemerling said. "There's no doubt about it."

Sales in 2008 began slightly above the previous year's, but in March that trend reversed, with gallons of fuel sold declining by about 6 percent from the previous year, Kemerling said. Sales declined 4 percent in April from the previous year and 6 percent in May.

Consumption seemed to decline when gas per gallon topped the "$3.20 barrier," Kemerling said.