Opinion — Fuel thoughts
Published 1:35 pm Saturday, May 21, 2022
As all fuels reach record highs, now is a good time to reflect on the driving factors. No one issue is doing this damage, but rather the perfect storm of the wrong government policies coming together at the same time.
First, remember that Obama supporters were quite open in their hope that gasoline should be at least $5 per gallon. President Obama did take actions that drove prices higher, but they never reached that goal. Their focus was on the belief that we should not rely on carbon-based fuel. They believed that higher fuel costs would force drivers to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles. Their plan was working; however, not as quickly as they hoped. Infrastructure was and remains a major challenge in rural areas.
President Trump’s ideology was far different. He believed that people should make the decision on what vehicles they should drive, not the government. Therefore, he believed that we should not focus on just one or two energy sources but rather all of the above, including solar, wind, nuclear and traditional carbon-based fuels. That policy drove down prices while, for the first time, making North America a net exporter of energy rather than sending American dollars to the Middle East and other areas that do not respect our values.
President Biden, as he reversed every policy that President Trump supported, immediately shut down the pipeline to Canada. Because oil is a worldwide commodity, this was a clear sign to other oil-producing nations that prices could be raised, and they were. Meantime, because of a nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, some countries, most notably Germany and the United States, backed off nuclear as a power source. Likewise, the push for cleaner air made coal, a mainstay for many power plants, less attractive.
These decisions have resulted in greater demand for natural gas and gasoline from Russia and the Middle East. Now, with Russia attacking Ukraine and the Iran government toying with nuclear weapons, we are in a dangerous time and place.
President Biden’s administration has been tone-deaf and clearly out of touch with the average American. First, he told us that the inflation that we are experiencing is transitory; implying that prices would come down soon. His Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, stated that people should just buy electric cars. He seems unaware that these vehicles are beyond the budget possibilities of most families.
Finally, understanding that people were getting madder and madder, he announced that he would allow some leasing of federal land to exploration and drilling for oil. In doing so, he opened up far less than had formerly been available before he stopped the leasing when he became president. With less fanfare, he is charging far more to those companies that lease the property. Likewise, he withdrew some of those options when he thought the public would not notice.
Rather than letting the public decide if, when and how they would choose to switch or not switch to electric vehicles, he has put government’s finger on the scales to force folks to buy those vehicles. Not only has he incentivized the automotive companies to switch production, but in his failed six billion dollar “Build Back Better” legislation, he proposed installing thousands of recharging stations in theory across the country. My guess is that many rural areas would be controlled by monopolies and priced as such.
Recently, a study was done in the nine counties around San Francisco. An area with a population of almost eight million people, many green-focused. The study was led by retired University of California-Berkeley bioengineering professor David Rempel working with volunteers from the nonprofit organization Cool the Earth.
This is what they found: It assessed 657 electric vehicle charging plugs at 181 public stations. Only 72.5 worked properly. These were the chargers that could fully charge a vehicle in about half an hour. Charging a typical car, which has a 247-mile range between charges, could cost $2,100 per year for 15,000 miles of driving. A comparable hybrid gets 41 mpg, and it would cost about $1,550 in gas per year at $4.25 per gallon.
This is the type of information that should be available to you before making decisions and why government should not be deciding.
Frank Ruff Jr. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.