Gas $1.97 a gallon and Falling: Not so Good

Below – unrelated to my post below is a picture of my thinned pines, a food plot and the tall trees from the SMZ in the background.

I bought gas at BP in Petersburg, just south of Richmond and paid only $1.97 a gallon.  That was below the price I saw advertised on the electronic board at Pilot.  They were offering regular at $2.03, but when I passed going home around nine hour later the price had dropped to $1.99.   I have never seen anything like that before, but it is not all good.

High prices encourage conservation and alternatives.  Low prices do the opposite.   We had a chance to do the right thing in the 1990s and we blew it.  The right thing, BTW, is to raise taxes on gasoline as the price goes down.   We need to keep the prices high to put a floor under conservation and alternatives and to drop the floor out from under despots and potentates who control much of the world’s oil.    I know that I could never run for political office with a “raise the gas price” platform, but it is the right thing.  

Countries like Venezuela, Iran & Russia depend on high oil prices to fund their adventures.  It is probably better if they don’t get them.   I am not enthusiastic about any sort of taxes, but gas taxes serve the salutary purpose of dampening demand for oil.   There is no painless way to a more independent energy future.  We use oil for a very logical reason: it is cheap.  But the price we pay does not reflect the price of sending cash to despots in the most unstable parts of the world.  Nor does it include the mitigation of the greenhouse gases it puts into the air.  

It gets worse.  Not only does cheap oil keep us from a more independent energy future, it also leads – paradoxically – to high energy prices.   The oil despots, IMO, drop prices periodically in order to drive alternatives to bankruptcy and make conservation look like a dumb idea.   I know this sounds like a silly conspiracy theory and it is the only one I suspect might be true.  The solution is simple, but not easy.

I drive and I use gas.  That is how I know the prices.  I understand that we will be using oil for a while to come.  I am not advocating quitting cold turkey, but it would help to get the incentives right and price is one of the biggest incentives I know.   Of course, I can say all this because I won’t be running for office.