Currently viewing the tag: "Gas Prices"

You are invited to attend the ***FREE*** alternative fueled vehicle roadshow event in Miami.

A statewide vehicle showcase tour and series of presentations on the economics and practicality of implementing alternative fuel transportation solutions for industry and government, using natural gas, propane, biofuels, and electric vehicles.

Registration is required for this free event:

http://www.afvroadshowmiami.eventbrite.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 — 9:00am-noon

701 NW 1st Court

Miami, Florida 33136

 

 

 

Gas Price Equivalents in The Netherlands

New York Times columnist and foreign policy expert Thomas Friedman has written another gem about our oil addiction. He’s long advocated for higher gas and oil prices over the long term to force us to drive less and live more sustainably.

Here are a couple snippets from his most recent column, which I highly recommend reading in its entirety, titled Truth or Consequences:

Cynical ideas, like the McCain-Clinton summertime gas-tax holiday, would only make the problem (America’s oil addiction) worse, and reckless initiatives like the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep offer to subsidize gasoline for three years for people who buy its gas guzzlers are the moral equivalent of tobacco companies offering discounter cigarettes to teenagers

…What our mythical candidate would be proposing, argues the energy economist Phillip J. Verleger Jr., is a “price floor” for gasoline: $4 a gallon for regular unleaded, which is still half the going rate in Europe today. Washington would declare that it would never let the price fall below that level. If it does, it would increase the federal gas tax on a monthly basis to make up the difference between the pump price and the market price.

Photo: Paul Garland’s Flickr

The Miami Herald’s website is reporting that Florida International University is adopting four-day work weeks for most of its employees this summer, in order to save money on electricity by closing many of its buildings one day per week.  Employees will still be required to work the requisite 40 hours each week, but will do so over four days, rather than five, thus allowing buildings to idle for three consecutive days rather than two.  The move, Modesto Maidique, FIU’s president suggests, will save the university $250,000.

Because they are my employer, I can state unequivocally that not all employees are happy with this arrangement; however, many of us are happy that we won’t be spending some of our hard-earned money on gas for our commute for that fifth day of the week. 

It would be interesting to see what might happen to the price of gasoline if this work calendar were adopted by employers across the board.  To be sure, the resulting price drop wouldn’t be 20% (the theoretical amount of gas saved, if everyone were to merely stay home on that day), but it would be interesting, would it not, to see what the oil companies would do were the typical commuter’s consumption reduced instantaneously by 20%?

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Oil Addiction Cartoon

Image: Carfreeusa.blogspot.com

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I’ve been waiting for this moment, probably for too long; it arrived rather uncerimoniously as I passed the Chevron at 72nd Av. on SW 24th Street in the unincorporated neighborhood of Westchester.  Now, I’ve seen diesel being sold at $4.25 or so for at least the last month, but until this morning, I had not seen gasoline selling at more than $4.00 per gallon.  That all came to an end as I noted the price of self-service premium at $4.09.  I, on the other hand, paid a paltry $3.859 per gallon for self-service regular.  It still cost $72.00 to fill up the tank on my mini-van.

Has anyone else out there experienced this soon-to-be usual sighting?

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If Senators Clinton and McCain have their way, this summer Americans might be duped into thinking that a “gas-tax holiday” will help alleviate the financial strains of filling up. The gas tax holiday undermines the principles of supply and demand and is little more than a cheap political gimmick. If imposed, the holiday would only save the average American consumer $30 throughout the course of the summer.

The gas-tax holiday continues the flawed mentality that the rise in oil prices is a temporary matter. FYI- oil prices nudged past $125 a barrel today, the fourth day this week of record highs. America needs to realize that there isn’t going to be a “quick fix” to this critical problem. The era of whizzing around carefree in gas powered vehicles is coming to a close and we must now turn our focus to more sustainable forms of making the most out of our available land. This shift will not be easy. It’s not that simple to turn back 6 decades of automotive mindset and policy in a country whose infrastructure largely revolves around oil.

As James Howard Kunstler put it in this week’s Businessweek:

It’s not that we’re driving the wrong cars. It’s that we’re driving cars of any size, incessantly.

To view the Gas Tax petition, visit Gas Tax Scam

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The Herald reports this morning that more people are turning to transit these days, but not proportionally consistent with the large population of South Florida. It’s something we regularly say on this site: that as gas prices increase, so will transit ridership. Unfortunately the article tends to reflect the whole car culture of South Florida by putting a somewhat negative spin on numbers that reflect a significant growth in transit usage in the region. Yes, when compared to the whole three county population our transit ridership is low, but how about the fact that our system just isn’t there yet. The more lines that are added, the more connectivity the system has, the more choices people will have to get to where they are going.

Our cultural fear of transit has nothing to do with safety, or socio-economic condition, or any of the other symptoms that critics wage at transit. Our fear has to do with being stranded somewhere without any way of getting around. The flexibility that you have with a car, and don’t with our local transit is enough to keep anyone from riding.

What we need are abundant lines, and more frequent stops that are close to where people can walk to them (not more than a five minute walk!)

My favorite line from this article comes from the head of the Expressway Authority Javier Rodriguez, ”I think we’d be doing great — not just good, but great — if we could get 4 percent transit usage across South Florida.”

Riggggght. Hey guys at the Herald, next time you do a story on transit try to get someone from the Transit Agency to give you a quote, not the head of the Expressway Authority!

Aww jeeez.

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Believe it or not, transit is a reality in the greater Miami area. The Fort Lauderdale city commission just voted to pay for 25% of the downtown streetcar project known as the Wave. That means they will provide $37.5 million of the estimated $150 million needed for the project. The next step for the Downtown Development Authority is to secure $75 million in federal and $37.5 million in state funding. It seems like a challenge, but the important thing is that this was a unanimous vote of support for the project to proceed.
A little more information on the project: The map shown above, from page 2 of this PDF flyer, is not necessarily the most current plan; but it provides a general layout of the proposed route. The streetcar, shown in yellow, will connect to future FEC corridor transit (purple on the map) and East-West transit on Broward Blvd. (green) at the location of the current Broward Central Bus Terminal. The terminal will turn into a multimodal transit hub for all these systems. Also on the PDF map is existing Tri-Rail in dashed red, the FEC corridor in purple, and the Sunport people mover (Airport to Seaport) in orange. The likely deviation from the route on the map is that the streetcar will probably detour down NW 1st Ave. before crossing Broward Blvd. so it can stop at the Central Terminal.

Contrary to what bloggers like Len Degroot or Alesh Houdek might be inclined to believe, Fort Lauderdale is neither dreaming nor out of touch with reality. With gas prices skyrocketing, people want alternatives to cars. Transit has never looked better.

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After calling for people to join him in a gas boycott in this column, Daniel Vasquez has been blogging and recording his experience taking the bus or carpooling to work, combined with riding his bike for other errands every day this week. Read the posts and watch the videos on his Consumer Talk blog. It’s good to see someone used to riding in a car every day willing to try alternatives.

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Energy and oil is the dominant theme this week, however the articles about the Everglades and affordable housing in Miami are very troubling.

  • NY Times: Efforts to save the everglades are faltering
  • Newsday: Gas prices affecting community, car use
  • NY Times: Rising demand for oil provokes new energy crisis
  • KITV Honolulu: Gas prices have reached $5 per gallon in parts of Cali
  • Miami Herald: Housing crunch (lack of affordable housing) hitting low-income residents hard
  • NY Times: High gas prices and long commutes having an impact on the sprawl market

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For those of you that didn’t know, today was national boycott gas stations day, an ill-conceived plan to deal a financial blow to the oil industry for the steady increase in gas prices. Let me begin by clearly stating why this will not work: America is addicted to oil, if we don’t buy it today we’ll buy it tomorrow; the only truly effective way to enact change and really impact the finances of the oil industry would be to change our lifestyles and dependency on the substance. What am I talking about? Bikes, Buses, Rail Transit, and your own two legs are some of our alternatives. A real blow to the gas industry would be a reversal in the American mindset, a change in our style of planning (or lack thereof,) and an immense amount of money invested in our national infrastructure; all of which I can’t foresee evolving in our immediate future.

National boycott gas stations day was a short-sighted band-aide-like attempt to solve one of our most critical national problems. I say band-aide because like many of our “solutions” if failed to adequately address the real underlying issue (like the solutions for the “property insurance crisis,” but I’ll touch on that subject at a later point), instead the boycott focused on the rising cost of oil and its effect on our economy rather than concentrating on our addiction to a limited natural resource and viable alternatives to keep our economy vibrant and people mobile.

We’re too focused on the rising cost of gas and its effect on our pocketbook to realize that we’ve dug ourselves an enormous suburban grave. Many of our neighborhoods are un-navigable to anything but vehicles, often missing sidewalks in some of the newer communities in west-Dade. Should gas prices rise sharply further beyond the affordable realm for many, the effects of our unchecked, unplanned growth will place a greater economic strain on our lives as we search for yet another quick fix to our mess…Someone better call J&J quick, because we’re going to need some more Band-aides

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