The Dallas Morning News reports today that... gas is really expensive!
Imagine our surprise, we thought it was cheap and have been driving around the extra-scenic route to work just so we can take advantage of that here in the Common Sense Household. I wrote a column submission for the Trib two weeks ago now called Gas is too high that has yet to run. So I'll run it now. Enjoy.
Gas is too high
By Nate Nance
Has anyone noticed that gas is still really expensive?
There was a lot of notice last September after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that oil companies were, how shall we say, possibly gouging us and laughing all the way to the bank. But then, the price at the pump went back down slightly and people kind of forgot.
The price went back up. Today, March 24, 2005, as I'm writing this, the price at my local Shell station is $2.46 a gallon for regular unleaded. That's a lot.
I can't afford that on my meager salary. We bloggers can barely afford our fancy coffees. Having gas be that expensive is just asking for us to stay inside and investigate politicians and whatnot.
It wasn't that long ago that I was a young, idealistic high school sophomore with his first car. The very first week with Big Red (that was the name I gave my little red 1996 Grand Am), the very first week, my mom gave me a $5 bill to go to the gas station. I got half a tank of gas with that. Those were glory times, gas was $0.87 a gallon and I was able to drive around with nowhere to go. The second week, my mom made me get a job.
The point is, anything that makes me nostalgic for high school is really, really bad.
At my blog, I like to try and offer practical solutions to problems. If I just complain, I might as well be a member of the United States Congress. So what are our options? The most popular today is hybrid technology.
I was at a reception in January having a discussion with the wife of my friend who is the editor of a large-circulation national magazine based in Texas that will remain nameless. She told me that they were thinking of buying a new car and were looking at the hybrids on the market. My immediate response was "Don't waste your money."
The price of a hybrid vehicle versus the savings at the pump doesn't make it worth it for me. The price tag could be $10,000 more than a regular gas-guzzling internal combustion engine, but you'll only save $500 on gasoline in a year. The calculator on my cell phone says it would take 20 years for you to recoup that extra expense with what you would save on fuel.
What about hydrogen-powered cars? I'll answer that question with another one. Would you live next to a gas station with thousands of gallons of hydrogen stored underground? Or would you drive around with hydrogen in your fuel tank while still giving senior citizens driver's licenses? I didn't think so.
That leaves us with my favorite alternative to gasoline: Biodiesel.
Willie Nelson uses biodiesel for his tour bus. Do you really need another reason to buy a diesel truck? The only drawback so far is that you can't drive anywhere where it's cold or hot.
Okay, we don't have a ready-made alternative for our gasoline consumption. None of the new technologies can really do everything oil does for us. That doesn't mean we should give up, though. As we near peak oil production (some experts believe we've already passed that mark) gasoline is only going to get more expensive. Global warming is also a concern for many people. Al Gore's new movie, slated for release this summer, got a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival (a movie about Al Gore giving a slideshow presentation on global warming got a standing ovation?).
The first step in really solving the problem is for us to admit we need a solution. We can't do that if there are tax breaks for people to buy Humvees. If it were the other way around, with special treatment for people who go out on a limb and get these new technologies.
Recognizing that we may not find one solution that is perfect is the next step. We might have to try combinations of alternatives to get the full benefits with the slightest pain. Hybrid cars running on gaso-alcohol fuels or finding an additive that makes biodiesel a viable option may be the wave of the future.
I don't know. What is certain is that we have to start thinking about that future and how we're going to get there.
Can you believe I don't get paid to write gold like that?