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Oil-vey!
August 31, 2005 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Gas at $4 a gallon? A quick summary of the current reasons gas remains high ("Not I!" squawks the refiners, "Not I!" squawks producers). The EPA is easing restrictions in affected areas and the national oil keg is being tapped (WSJ), yet despite the whole doom-and-gloom scenerios the Economist remains perky about the cause of rising prices, "higher oil prices [now] reflect strong demand, ... they are the product of healthy global growth."
posted by geoff. (122 comments total)

 
I'm nearly convinced that there's just a bunch of cigar twirling fat cats getting rich of all this. I believe the "rocket and feather" that seem to guide oil prices are what scare people the most. Personally, if I knew that for the next year gas would be guarenteed at $2.75 I'd feel a lot more comfortable than the massive two steps forward and one step back gas prices. Any economists want to comment on whether high gas prices are less of an indication of the scarcity of oil and production and more to do with speculation and herd mentality?
posted by geoff. at 10:45 AM on August 31, 2005


Nearly?

I only wish I didn't have tuition bills to pay and could have afforded to invest a year ago.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:47 AM on August 31, 2005


Gas at $4 a gallon?

Almost makes you feel sorry for those gas-guzzling SUV owners.

Almost.
posted by crunchland at 10:55 AM on August 31, 2005


What is really sad is that our important strategic reserves are being tapped.

If we had bothered to conserve oil with energy-saving measures, or deal with oil-producing countries on a fairer basis, or not embark on an unnecessary war, we'd be in much better shape to deal with domestic emergencies.

As usual, however, the American Petroleum Institute will trot out their usual lobbyists to the media to get it out there that high gas prices are the fault of state taxation...
posted by Rothko at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2005


"higher oil prices [now] reflect strong demand, ... they are the product of healthy global growth."

Actually, the most recent edition of The Economist shockingly suggested HIGHER taxes on gasoline as a means to wean the Oiloholics off their increasingly self-destructive habit. In ten years of reading The Economist I never saw them once suggest higher taxes as a solution for anything.
posted by three blind mice at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2005


i say we take chavez up on his offer - viva chavez! no wonder the nut cases on the right want to assassinate this man.
posted by specialk420 at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2005


Rothko wrote:

"If we had bothered to conserve oil with energy-saving measures, or deal with oil-producing countries on a fairer basis, or not embark on an unnecessary war, we'd be in much better shape to deal with domestic emergencies..."

Amen.
posted by tbonicus at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2005


I dont see how any of the articles mention being nicer to OPEC countries or the Iraq war as direct causes. In fact the article from the Economist goes on to say that we have been energy efficient compared to our oil consumption as part of the GDP since the 70s. I'd like to put the blame on the speculators and refineries, but we can finger Bush and SUVs if we want.
posted by geoff. at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2005


At least the members of our country's administration don't have anything to gain from oil company profits.
posted by NationalKato at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2005


I would like to think that this "prediction" is actually a sign of prices halting their rise. Just like panic selling creates a bottom when prices are falling rapidly, panic buying can make a top. Everyone who wants to buy has bought, and there's nobody left, forcing prices down (my apologies to the traders out there, I know I am oversimplifying).

FWIW, viva Chavez indeed. I think I'll go fill my tank with some nice CITGO gas at the 7-11 now.
posted by ilsa at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2005


Glad I just bought a car that can run Biodiesel!

If gas is at $4, my biodiesel will actually be significantly cheaper than gas. Sweet
posted by Windopaene at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2005


Don't forget today's waiver on gasoline volatility and diesel sulfur content!
posted by clevershark at 11:13 AM on August 31, 2005


er, waiver on standards regarding those things I meant.
posted by clevershark at 11:14 AM on August 31, 2005


Man! No wonder they want him dead! The man is trying to give gas to the poor! Americans don't need your charity, Venezuela!
posted by graventy at 11:14 AM on August 31, 2005


I think I'll go for a drive just to contribute to healthy global growth. How can that be wrong?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:15 AM on August 31, 2005


I dont see how any of the articles mention being nicer to OPEC countries or the Iraq war as direct causes

Me neither, but the articles don't say anything about how Venezuela's oil exports are down from 17% to 11% over the length of the Bush administration's rule. That's 6% of scarcity we can only make up with higher priced crude from other sources — mostly Muslim nations that don't like us because of our colonial adventures in Iraq — while we buy ever increasing numbers of SUVs. Doesn't seem like sustainable behavior, to me.
posted by Rothko at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2005


Damn, give gas to the poor and they'll all start driving Hummers and Escalades.

Everytime I see the gas prices go up another dime or quarter, I keep thinking how nice it is that my motorcycle gets about 45 miles to each gallon.

The more expensive gas gets, the more economically feasible the alternatives get, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. And its a damned funny thing watching the assholes in my town dropping $100 in their oversized trucks every week. Especially since they tend to drive them like sportscars and get even worse mileage than they could.
posted by fenriq at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2005


Gas is $3.29 here. Up $.30 from yesterday and $.60 from the day before.
posted by drezdn at 11:21 AM on August 31, 2005


Especially since they tend to drive them like sportscars and get even worse mileage than they could.

exactly! when i'm going the speed limit -- or 5 mph above when i'm really in a hurry -- the vehicle on my ass trying to go 10 mph or more above the limit is an suv w/ 1 passenger, more often than not.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2005


I'd like to be the first to welcome our fifty-first state: Venezuela.

Viva la Annexico!
posted by hal9k at 11:25 AM on August 31, 2005


The two pipelines running up the eastern seaboard are currently down. They hope to be operating at 20% capacity by this weekend, but there are no gurantees.
posted by odinsdream at 11:27 AM on August 31, 2005


I propose the mandated addition of an instant gas usage gauge in cars to let leadfoot fools know just how much gas they're wasting by driving their SUV's like sportscars.

My father had a Lincoln or something that had this and it was amazing to watch the mileage drop as the accelerator was pushed down. And subsequently rise again as cruising speed was reached. It was a pretty clear demonstration of what a reasonable acceleration did for fuel efficiency as opposed to the jack rabbit throttle humpers.

So what's Pat Robertson think of this latest news from Venezuala?
posted by fenriq at 11:27 AM on August 31, 2005


Sales of SUVs have been falling since 2003, so lets get past the whole evil SUV thing shall we. Consumers have gotten the message (for the most part)
posted by zeoslap at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2005


I don't own a car. I know this still affects me in other ways, but I'm kind of proud of that.
posted by fungible at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2005


I'm nearly convinced that there's just a bunch of cigar twirling fat cats getting rich of all this. I believe the "rocket and feather" that seem to guide oil prices are what scare people the most.

You don't have to be a 'cigar twirling fatcat' to make money off of this stuff. My mom is making a lot of money by investing in oil companies. Anyone can do it.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 AM on August 31, 2005


"The Economist shockingly suggested HIGHER taxes on gasoline as a means to wean the Oiloholics off their increasingly self-destructive habit."

That's funny. I mean, that's actually really sad. Any of your lefties remember the 2000 campaign? Anyone remember the wonderful smear used against Gore on his energy policy? Didn't he say "we should increase gas taxes to try and ween people off of their oil dependacy". Gee. I guess that was a, um, bad thing then or something. And look. Now someone from the economics and financial markets is actually saying, wow, maybe we should try and get off this oil addiction so we won't be, you know, catapulted into a recession everytime something unpredictable or unexpected happens to us. You know, like a terrorist attack or a hurricane or an earthquake.

Muldoons.


Anyway, expect to start seeing lines at the pump. I actually had to sit through one yesterday, because some jackhole on the "conservative" radio station apparently decided to opine that people should tank up now before the prices rise (actually, not a bad idea, except when you tell everyone and they all decide to gas up).


I expect to hear reports of hoarding in the national media by the end of September. Unless something else happens to relieve this pressure.
posted by daq at 11:36 AM on August 31, 2005


I recall that when Clin ton and the Dems released oil from reserves, the GOP screamed that it should only be tapped in dire emergency, suggesting it was needed for military purposes.
posted by Postroad at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2005



i say we take chavez up on his offer - viva chavez! no wonder the nut cases on the right want to assassinate this man.


from the article you linked to:
"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," the populist leader told reporters at the end of a visit to Communist-run Cuba.
Actualy the Venezuelan government is a part owner of Citgo, so they have the means to do this pretty easily. Just flash your W2 and get a 'cheap gas' card.
posted by delmoi at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2005


Isn't the strategic oil reserve...oil? And not gasoline? Will freeing up more oil have any effect on the price of gasoline when it is the US' refineries (the magic places where oil becomes gasoline) that have been crippled by Katrina?
posted by tpl1212 at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2005


Can someone explain why Americans feel it's they're entitled to cheap gas - like, just becuase?

If you find yourself at the pump complaining about gas prices, don't buy it! Just by being there, you're part of the problem. Despite the high prices, consumption hasn't been declining significantly.

If Mars could sell the same amount of Snickers bars for twice the price, wouldn't they be stupid NOT to? Why is it any different for the oil companies? Why are they evil for seeking profits for their products?

The constant bitching about gas prices is really getting to me. Most people could cut their spend by riding a bike, walking, taking the bus, carpooling, etc, but the problem is nobody WANTS to. As Americans, we generally do what we WANT and I guess it makes us spoiled brats.

Does anyone disagree?
posted by b_thinky at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2005


I think that we should tax to fix gas prices extra high right now ($6.00 a gallon or so). My reasoning behind this is to take those at-the-pump tax revenues, and apply them to offset the use of oil for non-fuel uses (materials, textiles, lubes). That could help prevent a massive increase in manufacturing costs (and inflation). Hopefully the end result people would notice is an increase in the cost of getting around, not grocery shopping. The only problem is that so little is made here now....
posted by sourwookie at 11:45 AM on August 31, 2005


"Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are now awash in oil money, and no matter what the controls, some is surely getting to unsavory groups."
posted by gwint at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2005




I was researching an FPP, but might was well go here:
Primer on Gasoline Prices

And on the same server, current prices and analysis
(from the Energy Information Adminitration EIA)

Can't forget the historical data on gas prices, by region, by grade and back to 1993 or so.

Want to be a petro nerd
Oil Information Technology Journal

Oil and Gas Journal

Lastly, I recommend the interesting article in the August 21, 2005 Sunday New York Times Magazine (required payment for the online version.) The Breaking Point by Peter MAASS
This article was extremely educational on the production of oil in the kindom of Saudia Arabia.
posted by fluffycreature at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2005


Personally I'm more annoyed at the local swings I'm seeing around here. I saw a 25 cent price range on my way to work this morning. Too chaotic!
posted by smackfu at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2005



Oh, looks like he is working on a book, meanwhile he is hopping around NPR. ---->Listen
(from August 22, 2005 Fresh Air NPR)

(RE: about the NY Times article on Oil mentioned above)
posted by fluffycreature at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2005


b_thinky, yeah, who needs to get to work or to the store or anything like that? Gas is a luxury. So's food and shelter.
posted by fenriq at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2005


Especially since they tend to drive them like sportscars and get even worse mileage than they could.

My 11 year old Ford Ranger is getting over 20 mpg, mostly because I don't speed all that much and just start coasting when I see I'm coming up to a yellow or red light. This has pissed off countless drivers behind me who think they're supposed to go 45 mph until they have to slam on the brakes like an F-14 trapping aboard the USS Forrestal or whatever. (Come to think of it, my truck's brakes are in surprisingly good shape, too). Still, if I can replace it with something smaller, lighter, with better mileage next year, I will. Even better would be to live on a bus line and drive only on weekends for shopping or whatever.

As soon as I saw the news Monday morning and reflected on how much refining infrastructure is going offline due to the hurricane, I started figuring gas will hit about $4.50 a gallon and stay there through the winter, after which it'll creep down to $3.50 and we'll all figure that's a bargain.
posted by alumshubby at 11:55 AM on August 31, 2005


Americans are spoiled. Europeans pay up to $7 a gallon, Japanese pay about $4 or $5. It's mostly taxes, I guess, to discourage excessive consumption. Of course the US is much bigger than those countries and transportation is an issue, but that seems to be an even bigger reason to try to invest in alternative fuel sources. Too bad it won't happen until there's a serious oil crisis.
posted by aerify at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2005


Part of the reason why gas is so cheap in the US is because, under the terms of NAFTA, Canada (the US' largest supplier of oil, even more than Saudi Arabia) is required to top up the reserves, even at the expense of domestic demand, thereby ensuring a ready supply.

There have been rumblings from a couple of Canadian federal ministers about Canada withdrawing from NAFTA due to the softwood tariff rulings that the US is ignoring. If you want your gas to remain cheap, you might want to write your congresscritter and ask him to agitate for the return of the $5B in tariffs currently being held by the US.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2005


fluffycreature, those are some great links. I now know that California refines most of its own gas, and the chart in the second is great (even if its only updated once per week).
posted by cali at 12:08 PM on August 31, 2005


No Blood for Oil:
President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields that he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

Bush, a onetime oilman, has rejected charges that the war in Iraq is a struggle to control the nation's vast oil wealth.

But on Tuesday, Bush said the Iraqi oil industry, already suffering from sabotage and lost revenues, must not fall under the control of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:08 PM on August 31, 2005


But the war's not about oil! Clinton has a library! We need to make value choices! /huffs_some_more_premium
posted by Rothko at 12:15 PM on August 31, 2005


zeoslap: Sales of SUVs have been falling since 2003, so lets get past the whole evil SUV thing shall we. Consumers have gotten the message (for the most part)

I'm not sure it's that simple. This summer saw both huge gas-price increases and an incentive-driven rise in retail SUV sales, for example.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:26 PM on August 31, 2005


Windopaene, what make/model of car did you purchase?

I'll be replacing my '92 Corolla in a year or two and I'm VERY interested in a biodiesel friendly vehical.

B.
posted by digibri at 12:27 PM on August 31, 2005


crud... that means that the price of bananas will probably go up too. So much for my $0.30/lb fuel source...
posted by chibikeandy at 12:27 PM on August 31, 2005


I can't even keep up anymore.
posted by psmealey at 12:29 PM on August 31, 2005


$4? They're already reporting $4.55/gal here in Atlanta on AtlantaGasPrices.com. I keep hoping it's a joke, but there're numerous accounts of lines 15-30min long here and unofficial rationing.
posted by vanadium at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2005


aerify: Europeans pay up to $7 a gallon, Japanese pay about $4 or $5. It's mostly taxes, I guess, to discourage excessive consumption.

I believe it's mostly to pay for the construction and maintenance of the roads, something US fuel taxes are woefully inadequate for. And US roads show it, too.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2005


How naive I was to think that there could be a metafilter thread based on oil that would discuss economic predictions and fall-out that would lack Bush-SUV-Iraq comments.
posted by geoff. at 12:32 PM on August 31, 2005


Hey, if we pay $1.00 for an 8 oz. bottle of water, we probably deserve to pay $4.00 for a gallon of gasoline. My girlfriend purchased a hybrid week before last and we've been getting about 40 mpg city and highway with the air on. Looks like it was a timely purchase.
posted by Roger Dodger at 12:32 PM on August 31, 2005


fluffycreature writes "Lastly, I recommend the interesting article in the August 21, 2005 Sunday New York Times Magazine (required payment for the online version.) The Breaking Point by Peter MAASS
"This article was extremely educational on the production of oil in the kindom of Saudia Arabia."


Here is a free online version of the same article (probably from a reprint).
posted by nkyad at 12:39 PM on August 31, 2005


Any economists want to comment on whether high gas prices are less of an indication of the scarcity of oil and production and more to do with speculation and herd mentality?

Well. The Economist speculates that high petrol prices are an indication that global growth has been more rapid than existing output capacity can sustain. The bond yield signal isn't working and oil price is acting as a proxy. Good news because it is preventing overheating. Bad news because your society is totally exposed now to supply disruptions (and we are being taxed because world prices are higher than they would otherwise be to feed your addiction).

What's sad is that most of the folks that drive the SUV's lack the faculties to be able to connect their lifestyle choice with the consequence of that choice when the disruption comes. Schadenfreude is so much more delicious when the other person is self-aware.
posted by RichLyon at 12:49 PM on August 31, 2005


Sales of SUVs have been falling since 2003, so lets get past the whole evil SUV thing shall we. Consumers have gotten the message (for the most part)

Hardly. The employee pricing schemes this summer were largely driven by GM a company that has not gotten the message about fuel economy as was suffering horrible sales as a result. This means that even though consumers really wanted more fuel efficient cars GM still made it's massive land monstrosities and when it could sell them for a $5000 premium it reduced the price and still sold them.

This doesn't even touch the fact that the average lifespan of a vehicle is what about 7-10 years? So that these vehicles which we've been complaining about their lack of fuel efficiency for years will be around well into the next decade.

I think it is delicious irony that

1. A massive hurricane like this is just a foreshadowing of future climate change has hit us.

2. This is impacting gas prices in such a way that our economy is at risk.

If it didn't hurt so much I'd enjoy saying "I told you so..."
posted by aaronscool at 12:51 PM on August 31, 2005


Here in Asheville NC, gas stations are shutting down and gas is over $3/gal. Schools may shut down, and there are people beginning to go nuts at the grocery stores. This is crazy. Is there any other panic like this going on?
posted by moonbird at 1:00 PM on August 31, 2005


How naive I was to think that there could be a metafilter thread based on oil that would discuss economic predictions and fall-out that would lack Bush-SUV-Iraq comments.

Ask yourself if those Bush-SUV-Iraq comments are at all irrelevant. Perhaps your naïveté would evaporate from a more considered evaluation of the situation we're in. Perhaps not. It might be worth a try, nonetheless.
posted by Rothko at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2005


A massive hurricane like this is just a foreshadowing of future climate change has hit us.
[...]
If it didn't hurt so much I'd enjoy saying "I told you so..."


You don't know whether you're right any more than Jürgen Trittin. Sure, he's likely right, at least partially, but he can't be absolutely sure, and neither can you.

I don't think the Greens outgoing coalition have been good for anyone, with the possible exception of Fischer.
posted by oaf at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2005


Greens in the outgoing coalition
posted by oaf at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2005


moonbird: "Is there any other paniclike this going on?"

Here in Athens GA, prices went up 10-20 cents overnight, and when I went out at lunch they were up another 30 cents (to $2.99/gal). Now I'm getting a ton of email on local lists screaming for everyone to fill their tanks NOW, as lines are about an hour long and prices are over $3/gal.

I've got to stop at the grocery store on my way home. It's always a madhouse at 5:30, but I'm curious to see how things are today.
posted by ewagoner at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2005


kirkaracha writes "President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq"

Of course now that the US-caused power vacuum caused all these terrorist groups to pop up the US needs to be there to make sure those terrorist groups don't seize the oil!

This reminds me of the story of the boy who kills his parents, then asks the court for clemency on the basis that he's now an orphan.
posted by clevershark at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2005


Alright I will take you up on this Rothko. My beef isn't that Iraq and SUVs aren't partly to blame but the continued sarcastic commentary that get boring.

According to this document Iraq was producing 2.6millions bbl/d in 2003 and that has dropped to an estimated 2.0million bbl/d now. Before the war Iraq pumped as much oil as they possibly could, but I will ignore the implications of that export spike for now. This is a 600,000bbl/d difference. The most recent data I could find puts the USA at 20.4 million bbl/d. I'm not that into math (being serious, no sarcasm), but if we assume that all that oil would go to the US we're talking about a 3% decrease. In 2003 oil prices were hovering around just below $30 right? Now it's up to $70. That's more than double with a 3% decrease in oil production. Now demand due to SUVs certainly has not doubled in two years.

This is all very crude and hurried and if you can find a major fault in my logic please let me know (honestly, I don't want to be spewing wrong information). I just believe that the current oil and gas prices are caused by factors not relating to Iraq and SUVs. I'd believe that oil prices are caused by rampant speculation and refinery shortages along with uncertain growth in China and India (along with their unfair price subsidies) -- but blaming it on suburbia is a little presumptive. It's clear we're too vulnerable to oil supply shocks and will have to pay the price for our use, but the slow decline in prices after the shock leave me to believe that we are suckers to price gouging by the energy companies ("We spend the money on looking for new oil!").

The fact that the oil shales are very profitable after $50/gal and Canada's reserves are large and stable tell me this is less of a supply problem.
posted by geoff. at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2005


VW TDIs run biodiesel without modification to the engine. Just pump and go, and be ready for that wonderful french fries odor coming from the exhaust.
posted by linux at 1:29 PM on August 31, 2005


*whistles why sanctamoniously biking past the thread*
posted by drezdn at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2005


I will also have to agree with aaronscool point that a large problem is the dearth of hybrid vehicles on the market. There are still waiting lists to get them where I live, compound this with the fact that a large majority of our nation cannot afford a new $26,000 Toyota Prius because gas prices spiked. The most hurt by this spike will, as always, be the poor and the lower-middle class. While Mr. CPA might opt for the Lexus RS400H instead of a Range Rover, those shopping for a vehicle are seeing a clut of relatively cheap SUVs. I was looking for a new car recently and was keeping gas prices in mind, as far as features, safety and general reliability (based on year and mileage), SUVs are a good buy. The last SUV buying surge left a large demand-vs-supply gap.
posted by geoff. at 1:31 PM on August 31, 2005


Rather than buy an SUV for safety and reliability, I would point you to a Volvo wagon. At least you'll still be doing over 20mpg city.
posted by linux at 1:33 PM on August 31, 2005


linux; do note that newer TDIs, with the PD-style engine, have not been around long enough for thorough testing of biodiesel. VW released a statement that B5 (or maybe it was B10) was okay for their TDI engines, but plenty of people have used B100 in the older engines to know it's really alright. There is not, however, enough anectdotal evidence of people running B100 in the PD-style engine to say whether or not it will cause long-term harm or not.

I'm betting it won't. I'd be pouring B100 in my TDI PD right now, if it were available in my area. Some day I might get into manufacturing my own, but right now I don't have the time.
posted by odinsdream at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2005


Does anyone get the impression that right now the US is one large tragedy away from flying completely off the rails?

While I haven't bought gas in a few weeks, and won't need to for at least 1-2 more weeks, I think the increased prices are going to hurt the suburban poor, or the ones who don't live near bus routes. Following that, won't food prices spiral upwards?
posted by drezdn at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2005


fenriq: I guess you just don't see the big picture. More and more people want oil. There is less and less of it. Therefore, prices go up. This has less to do with Bush, Iraq and oil companies than it does with people waiting in line at the pump.

If gas is too expensive, there ARE options. Most cities have some form of mass transit such as buses and trains. You can carpool. You can walk, ride a bike, carpool etc. But most people choose not to because they value living far away from work and they enjoy spending 20 mins by themselves in the car to and from work.

That's just a fact.

When you buy gas it's an admission that you value the lifestyle afforded by your car more than the money you spend on gas. So I don't see where anybody gets off bitching about gas prices.

I drive cars that love gas: an F-250 and an Escalade EXT. I will never complain about gas prices because I realize fuel consumption in an option, not a right.
posted by b_thinky at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2005


Digibri

1982 Mercedes 240, manual transmission

Witha whopping 67 horsepower, I'm not blowing anyone off the road, but it's getting the job done. I grew up in KC, and have family there, so did some looking around on the KC Craigslist for one in that area, and found nothing. Don't know how easy biodiesel would be to find out there either, but it's pretty cool to have. When you come to a stop and your exhaust blows back to you you get the sweet smell of french fries...
posted by Windopaene at 1:40 PM on August 31, 2005


"I love these prices. The higher, the better," said Frank Gafke, of Galveston, a senior service leader for Halliburton on the Texas Gulf Coast. This article came out a couple weeks ago. I bet he's ecstatic today.

I filled up on Monday at $2.69. That station is $2.99 today. Prices in my town range from $2.77 to $3.29 for regular. There is one station in Chicago that is at $3.69, and others in the area are not far behind.

I am so glad I can take public transportation to and from work.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2005


If this happened early in the year, there might have been a huge upsurge in moped/motorcycle sales. If prices stay high, it'll probably happen next year.
posted by drezdn at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2005


I'd agree that the gas price thing is probably a combination of factors - Bush, SUVs, Iraq, China, India, the Saudis, terrorism, the hurricane. What's annoying is that Bush and Congress have had years to push for conservation, alternative fuels, better mileage standards. Instead, they pushed for more consumption.

Today, according to Drudge, Bush was "considering" asking Americans to cut back because of tough times. Considering, huh? Wouldn't want to look to Jimmy Carter-ish.
posted by fungible at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2005


b_thinky, you've made so many logical leaps, assumptions and poorly considered conclusions that I just don't see any point in trying to sort out your misguided perspective.

Your "facts" are not facts, they are opinions. Facts are verifiable. If people like to live far away and commute to their jobs everyday, prove it with some evidence to back it up. I would guess (and this is an opinion) that people would much prefer to live near their work so as to not waste their lives sitting in traffic twice a day. But maybe that's just me.

And thanks for being part of the problem with your two big gas guzzling road hogs. Part of the reason gas prices keep going up is because people like you are using alot more gas than you need to. So thanks for that.
posted by fenriq at 1:51 PM on August 31, 2005


Oh, gosh.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2005


Hawaii sets a caps on wholesale gas prices
*crosses fingers that the federal gov't doesn't try something so stupid*
posted by knave at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2005


My beef isn't that Iraq and SUVs aren't partly to blame but the continued sarcastic commentary that get boring.

I don't think that speculation and shortages aren't at fault — but our behaviors are contributing to the cost effect.

Ultimately, gasoline futures were already going up well before this hurricane. Thus, the storm's secondary effects are not the primary reason we're paying more for a scarce product.

SUV/truck sales by GM and Ford are strong. We are in Iraq for the long haul, despite a majority-share, popular opposition within and outside the US. Both of these are facts that can't be ignored in consideration of effect on rising prices.
posted by Rothko at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2005


I wonder if the hint of widespread panic I read in this thread is justifiable. Allright, there are a whole host of issues pushing the oil price up and some of them are unavoidable, making it easy to predict oil will get more and more expensive until it eventually gets replaced for another fuel. But the price surges related here (of as much as a whole dollar per gallon in a couple of days and still going up strong) is clearly a local and temporary market reaction to a large disaster. It is not like all gas dealers finally noticed the spectrum of Kyoto on their attcs and decided to act on it.
posted by nkyad at 1:57 PM on August 31, 2005


b_thinky
1. there are NOT always options. in the town where i'm from, which is very suburban, there are no busses, trains, let alone goddamn SIDEWALKS.
2. people value living far away from work and wasting time driving there? wow. dumb.
3. like fenriq said- NOT a fact. at all. what.so.ever.
4. this may be true if public transportation were avaliable, which it is not at all.

5. not always an option. tell that to people who supply your food that's shipped across the country. tell them that using fuel is just an option
posted by ackeber at 2:18 PM on August 31, 2005


Powered by rage-ahol.
posted by Rothko at 2:21 PM on August 31, 2005


There is not, however, enough anectdotal evidence of people running B100 in the PD-style engine to say whether or not it will cause long-term harm or not

I'd say PD and other high pressure diesel systems like Common Rail have not had the same length of time testing Biodiesel as older engine styles have is a true statement, though one could make the same statement about regular diesel.

That said PD and CR Diesel systems have been around in Europe for at least a few years longer than in the US. In the EU Biodiesel has been approved all the way to B100 in EU Volkswagens and Audis and Germany has a 10 year history with Biodiesel blends so plenty of miles have been spent with BD in these engines. Not to say there won't be problems in the extreme long term (over 150K miles or so) or in overall reliability but plenty of folks have run up PD engines using B100 to well over 100K miles.

That said I run B100 in my PD TDI and am at over 12K miles in a year without issue. Also it appears that after all this hurricane business regular diesel has now surpassed my biodiesel price.
posted by aaronscool at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2005


Linux and Odinstream. Any links to VW TDI engine info? My mother has a 2000 Jetta TDI, looking to find out what engine is in it and other info on the biodiesel front.
What about Dodge trucks with the Cummins turbodiesel engine? My sister has one. Also my mother has 2 diesel Kubota tractors (100 acre farm that is mostly wildlife preserve). It would be sweet for all the diesels to be running biodiesel.
Myself, having to retire my 1990 Corolla last year (more economical and reliable car I ever had) am in a 92' Volvo 740 wagon now. No where near as good on gas as the Corolla, but it is a bit more roomy for moving stuff when needed.
Since relocating to NY (Saratoga) I am working 4 miles from home now instead of 50 miles, and am planning on going with the bicycle until it snows.
Cheers all.
posted by a3matrix at 2:36 PM on August 31, 2005


Fenriq:

Your "facts" are not facts, they are opinions. Facts are verifiable.

You're right. Supply and demand is pure fiction.

"I would guess (and this is an opinion) that people would much prefer to live near their work so as to not waste their lives sitting in traffic twice a day."

"Near" is a relative term. What's considered "near" today may have been "far" before everyone had a car. What someone calls "far" in NYC, I might call "near" in LA. The point is, our entire modern lifestyle is built around the car. It allows us to move to the suburbs where we can live safely in large homes with a garage and a yard rather than in a cramped downtown apartment. But just because our lives center around them doesn't mean we're entitled to cheap gas.

"And thanks for being part of the problem with your two big gas guzzling road hogs."

No problemo.
posted by b_thinky at 2:43 PM on August 31, 2005


Typical American conserve anything? We don't even have recycling at at any level nationwide. I live in oh-so-liberal Austin TX; where an apartment complex with 30 units won't even fill a 1/2 bushel tub with newspaper once a week, and the one for the MIX of metal and plastics doesn't get filled either.

It is so nice to see the diesel comments come up. But, being America; we want to go fast. Now. Right now. And then wait at the redlight. And then go fast again. I am enjoying my '82 VW Camper and it's 30 mpg diesel. Smiles all the way down the road.

It is too bad that when the lesser gifted with finances begin to slow down their driving; the push to speed will be another American ha ha ha; you can't afford a big fast car and driving speedily, so I am going to tail your bumper all the way until I can blow by you. I might even give you the bird, or a dirty look.
Or at least that is what I see in Travis county, TX; the only interior TX county to vote Kerry. Because we are all liberal, and love the earth, and have SUVs, and... and one of my neighbors has all these Bush hate bumper stickers on her car and windows. Home windows are open all summer long, and the air conditioner is running constantly. It is like for so many people; they just can not connect the dots between some of these items, and the fact is that words are easy; actions are like a big fat "Don't tell me how to live my life" issue.
I look forward to $6 gallon gas forcing an awareness to the average American.
posted by buzzman at 2:54 PM on August 31, 2005


A 2000 TDI is not the new PD TDI (those started showing up in the US around 2004, I think). It's your basic 90hp with lotsa torque TDI, and should work quite well with biodiesel.

You can get a lot of info on VW TDI and PD TDI engine specs at TDI Club, particularly the TDI FAQ.
posted by linux at 2:55 PM on August 31, 2005


To answer a3matrix: http://www.tdiclub.com/ is the place you should go for all your VW TDI needs including Biodiesel.
posted by aaronscool at 2:56 PM on August 31, 2005


doh...shoulda previewed!
posted by aaronscool at 2:57 PM on August 31, 2005


ackeber:

"1. there are NOT always options. in the town where i'm from, which is very suburban, there are no busses, trains, let alone goddamn SIDEWALKS."

Well, that sucks. You could still carpool. And even if there is nothing you can do, the vast majority of people could cut back, but nobody wants to give up their car.

"2. people value living far away from work and wasting time driving there? wow. dumb."

I know a couple that lives in Salem, OR. One commutes 50 miles to Portland daily and the other 80 miles the other way to Eugene. It's dumb but they do it.

"3. like fenriq said- NOT a fact. at all. what.so.ever."

Sorry, I lost you on this one. Which part is not factual? That people continue to pay high prices for gas so it continues to go up? That you're addicted to gas and the very thought of inconvenicing yourself by (gasp) walking or (gasp) sharing a ride offends you?

"4. this may be true if public transportation were avaliable, which it is not at all."

Carpool, ride a bike, walk, etc. If you can't do any of those, you move closer to work/wherever you need to be. If you can't do that, maybe you shouldn't live in the town where you live.

Yeah, all these options suck but if you really can't afford the gas then you have no choice. We can blame whoever we want but there is a limited supply of oil and nearly unlimited demand. It should be considered a luxury, not a right.

"5. not always an option. tell that to people who supply your food that's shipped across the country. tell them that using fuel is just an option"

I'm pretty much talking about personal commuters. Ever sit in traffic and notice all those cars around you only have ONE person in them? THAT'S the problem right there.
posted by b_thinky at 2:57 PM on August 31, 2005


3. like fenriq said- NOT a fact. at all. what.so.ever."

Sorry, I lost you on this one. Which part is not factual? That people continue to pay high prices for gas so it continues to go up? That you're addicted to gas and the very thought of inconvenicing yourself by (gasp) walking or (gasp) sharing a ride offends you?


No, the fact is that you're taking your opinions and considering them as fact. The fact is that you don't know why people live a distance away from their work and commute. The fact is you don't know that people are offended by the thought of walking or ridesharing. The fact is that you're talking out your ass and are part of the problem.

That people pay for gas even though the price goes up doesn't speak to their being "addicted", it speaks to their need to get where they need to go.

You've made numerous illogical leaps and conclusions. Your argument is so flawed as to not be considered an argument at all and rather the wild (and stupid) rantings of someone who's part of the problem. But at least you don't complain while you fill your oversized SUV and truck so there's something.
posted by fenriq at 3:05 PM on August 31, 2005


OK - I just read that the president gave his speech today, all about the hurricane and gas prices. And not once did he actually say "conservation." Well, at least he's consistent.

Meanwhile, I read that CNN's reporting long lines in Atlanta and $5/gal price gouging. Nice.
posted by fungible at 3:05 PM on August 31, 2005


"Everytime I see the gas prices go up another dime or quarter, I keep thinking how nice it is that my motorcycle gets about 45 miles to each gallon."

fenriq, as always, I'm right there with ya. See you out on the 10! *high fives*

Peak Oil, kids, it's peak oil. I'm calling Katrina an "untimely accelerant" which is going to demonstrate the vulnerability and unsustainability of our car-based mostly-suburban culture.

The oil companies aren't building new refineries - in fact, they have all been shutting refineries down. Chevron wants to shut one down here in CA that is still running at a profit - which is nonsensical UNLESS Chevron knows that there will soon be less crude oil to refine every year, and the refinery will no longer be profitable.

So what is happening is that the oil companies have been shutting down refining capacity in advance of an expected decline in production - the down side after peak. Because of that shutdown, we now don't have any extra refining capacity to meet demand in case of an emergency like Katrina. And we will not in the future; they are not going to build any more refineries.

Katrina's destruction of key production, refinery and transport infrastructure is just going to bring this right into everyone's face a lot sooner than it would have been. We should pay attention to OPEC, who have promised to up their production to 11mbpd to "help" with lost production from Katrina. I don't think they actually can do so; if in fact they cannot, that means the peak is here, now.

Have you seen the huge billboards everywhere from Arco/BP, talking about "taking the alternative OUT of alternative fuels?" Now why do you suppose they're doing that?

By the way, Venezuela is already past its production peak and output there is declining every year. Annexing it, or any other skullduggery to grab their oil, isn't going to save us or even slow things down. Remember, there will be no new refineries to make more gas even if oil production remains flat.

Gas is going to go up, and up, and up, and up (of course with some seasonal variation) as long as demand remains high and increases every year. Katrina's damage is merely catalyzing a more rapid change.

Oh, also, the prices are so high in Atlanta because both pipelines that supply all of Atlanta's gasoline are down, with only about 8 days supply on hand locally. It's not known when the pipelines will be back up; if not within 8 days, Atlanta won't have any gasoline. If you live there, you should take the bus or train to work, or carpool as many people as one car will hold.

on preview: fenriq, I think I understand where b_thinky is coming from, though I don't like the "superiority" implied by his near-gloating about driving big, expensive, wasteful vehicles. Yeah, we get it b, you're one of the silly-rich Angelenos I see every day. Whoopee.

But I agree with you, b_thinky, when you say that living far from work and commuting many miles and burning lots of gas is not a right, it's a luxury. It happens to be a luxury that's been extended even to some of the poorest Americans, because up until recently gasoline was dirt-ass cheap... and now everyone's used to it. Even people with modest incomes can - or could - live 50 miles from work and burn 80 gallons of gas every week.

Very soon that will not be possible. And people will have to adjust. That will suck, but it will happen. Seriously, everyone: be ready for a very major downsizing in your personal mobility over the next few years. That's not a wild speculation, it's going to happen. Get ready for it.

fenriq and I will be on our bikes; I've done the math and given my current income and commute, I can withstand gas prices up to $12 a gallon if I have to, without undue strain on my finances.

And b_thinky, try not to come across like being able to piss money away on SUVs and hi-test makes you so great. Whatever job you do that makes you all that play money may not last, given what can happen to the economy with sharply rising fuel prices. You probably have a parachute, so bless you for that, but have a care for your less-wealthy neighbors. They don't live very far from you... especially here in Los Angeles.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:30 PM on August 31, 2005


Does anyone have any idea what percentage of US fossil fuel consumption is individual (versus commercial transport, airlines, power plants, etc.)?

With all this talk about the personal inconvenience of having to pay higher and higher prices for the gasoline our cars and SUVs consume, why is there no conversation here about the effect that this trend (assuming it is a trend and not a spike) in oil prices will have on the economy as a whole? Food prices, energy prices, air transportation, delivery etc. Or, are those problems too big, or simply beyond the scope of this thread?

My a personal perspective, Europeans have been paying >$5/gal for over a decade and it didn't kill them, but what worries me is the effect this will have on the economy as a whole.
posted by psmealey at 4:03 PM on August 31, 2005


zoogleplex, thanks for the interpretation. Here in California, people don't live in the same town they work in because they can't. Its simple economics here. Places where houses are even close to being affordable are nowhere near where the work is creating an ever more vicious cycle of commuting further and further to get to work.

People don't commute here because they like to, they do it because there's no other way to make a living.

I had to move to another town when we bought a house, I would have loved to keep my dinky little two mile commute but the house would have cost twice as much.

But, as the gas prices go up, the value of alternative means of transport and transportation become more and more viable. And that's a good thing.
posted by fenriq at 4:05 PM on August 31, 2005


fenriq: Yeah I live in a rent-controlled apartment, which I'm probably gonna hang onto for dear life. I'm single, sole income. I fear for my many friends who come in here from Pomona and West Covina and Simi Valley and Orange County... they're gonna take a big hit.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:16 PM on August 31, 2005


psmealey, I don't know the answer to that, but looking at the highways I ride on, which are mostly choked with cars rather than trucks, my guess would be that the majority of the 10 million barrels worth of oil we burn for transport every day is burned in personal cars.

And yeah, we haven't been talking about how it will affect everything else. I don't know as we need to, because it's pretty obvious. Most things move by truck in America, and diesel fuel is going up drastically, too. It's going to hit every single one of us in some way, and have most of its impact on people who make less than, say, $75,000 a year household, aka the Middle Class and below.

Air transport is probably going to get hit very, very hard hard.

Europeans, by the way, don't have the same long-distance supply chains that we do. It doesn't cost as much to move food and goods around, and they still use trains a lot more than we do for transport and cargo. Much more efficient, in terms of fuel burned per unit weight shipped. Also, they have more local agriculture and food production, whereas we have huge factory farms in centralized areas that ship food out thousands of miles.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2005


My a personal perspective, Europeans have been paying >$5/gal for over a decade and it didn't kill them, but what worries me is the effect this will have on the economy as a whole.

This conversation as taken an interesting turn and I think folks haven't seen this little tidbit. Yes many other countries have much higher gasoline prices like the EU, Japan, and more. They've done pretty well with these higher prices.

The difference is urban density. In Europe there is not so much the concept of suburbs. Most folks live within walking distance of everything they need: grocery stores, restaurants, pubs, and mass transit. This is partly because their cities are older and were never built to support automobiles in the first place but also partly because in their planning they did not allow for so much suburban expansion.

This has led to all kinds fringe benefits like highly evolved mass transit urban development that lets people live and work in a relatively smaller area.

In the US we've grown up with cars for the most part. Sure there are some cities like New York, Boston, Chicago or San Francisco that we well populated prior to the automobile but most other cities like Los Angeles have grown up dependent on cars. This is a major efficiency problem that will have wide short term economic impacts.
posted by aaronscool at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2005


fenriq and I will be on our bikes; I've done the math and given my current income and commute, I can withstand gas prices up to $12 a gallon if I have to, without undue strain on my finances.

But what will groceries, or anything else that needs to be shipped cost at that point? Yikes. (on preview zoogleplex beat me to it).

Not saying anyone's forgotten, but while cars are the biggest consumers of petroleum, almost our entire modern existence is predicated on oil. I remember having a chat with my father-in-law about Peak Oil, and looking around the house at everything that either used oil in its manufacture or was shipped from some far away place. Plastics, pesticides, food, building materials...on and on. My wife and I were imagining a future when air-travel is a distant memory, gas is restricted to commercial traffic, and driving from city to city for private folk might be as rare and as exciting as commercial flying was in its infancy.

I commute to work via bike, and live in a place where I can take a train to work, but I don't have any illusions that my life won't be significantly impacted by insane oil prices even if we don't use our car (a not particularly frugal Mazda 6 wagon, but mainly for weekend use, driven well under 10K miles a year.)

My father had a Lincoln or something that had this and it was amazing to watch the mileage drop as the accelerator was pushed down. And subsequently rise again as cruising speed was reached.

When I was working at an Audi dealer some years back, I used to have fun with their similar little mileage doohickey. We'd zoom up to about 100mph then put the car in neutral. The mileage computer would shoot to like 400mpg ;-)
posted by jalexei at 4:46 PM on August 31, 2005


"But what will groceries, or anything else that needs to be shipped cost at that point? Yikes."

Even tho you beat me to it, jalexei, the answer is WAY TOO MUCH. :)

However, I think oil as a raw material, relating to the total permeation of our lives with oil-based products like plastics, will be viable for a lot longer than it will be as a transport fuel (and probably for heating too). Gas prices will rise somewhat disproportionately to the crude oil price, especially as the competition for raw-material oil and critical-energy-infrastructure oil vs. make-motor-fuel oil will increase.

The big addition to the cost of living will be the added transport cost, if we keep moving things 3000 miles by truck. I don't know at what price point it will become impossible to do that, but that will change things an awful lot. Local goods production will have to start back up again as best it can.

Don't be expecting to find fresh lettuce or tomatoes in your supermarkets in February, is where it can go.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:59 PM on August 31, 2005


Press releases on the restoration of the Colonial Pipeline system (5,500 miles from Houston, TX to NY).

http://www.colpipe.com/pr_main.asp


They're hoping to be back to 50% capacity by the weekend.

Here in Cary, NC, the gas station was busy with prices at $2.99. While refilling, I got to listen to one side of a cell conversation by the lady at the next pump, who was bewailing the 'unfairness' of being 'gouged' and how 'these criminals should be ridden out on a rail'.

I wonder if it hurts to be that ignorant.
posted by bitmage at 5:18 PM on August 31, 2005


Only in the wallet, bitimage. Only in the wallet.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:20 PM on August 31, 2005


psmealey: Does anyone have any idea what percentage of US fossil fuel consumption is individual (versus commercial transport, airlines, power plants, etc.)?

The answer to that can generally be found on the Department of Energy website. There are two good sources for figuring that sort of thing out:
  • The Annual Energy Outlook (current usage/trends)
  • The Annual Energy Review (longer-term historical data)

    The information you want might not be presented directly in a single place, but here are some pointers. First, a flow diagram for petroleum, from import to final use is here (higher-quality PDF). It shows that about two thirds of petroleum imports are used in transportation. Then, the Annual Energy Review section on Energy Demand has a figure showing relative consumption of types of fuel. That shows that maybe two thirds of the fuel energy (note the y-axis is energy, not volume or mass) used in transportation goes to "motor gasoline" vs diesel or jet fuel. It's not a direct indication of consumer/individual vs commercial/industrial fuel use, but I'd guess it's close.

    There is a lot of other interesting information in there, if you look for it. For example, if you're interested about other types of fossil fuels relative to petroleum (a question I've had before, and which I answered with the same resources), both the Energy Outlook and the Energy Review indicate that petroleum accounts for a little under half of our fossil fuel consumption (natural gas and coal split the remainder pretty evenly). Here is a good overview of that information.

  • posted by whatnotever at 5:32 PM on August 31, 2005


    whatnotever, thank you! That's great stuff. I appreciate that.
    posted by psmealey at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2005


    I look forward to $6 gallon gas forcing an awareness to the average American.

    Doubt it. Much easier to blame the prez'dent.

    People are actually blaming the oil companies/gasoline wholesalers for price gouging. I really don't envy them their pain when the housing bubble collapses.

    What's that got to do with the price of gasoline?

    Well, how much oil does it take to build a house? (Not an original comment, it pains me to say.)

    I really hope the next generation of Americans learns the lessons that this one is so blithely ignoring.
    posted by A dead Quaker at 5:45 PM on August 31, 2005


    when the housing bubble collapses

    Mixed Metaphor Police: "You are under arrest"

    Sorry, couldn't help myself... but yes, agreed Dead Quaker.
    posted by psmealey at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2005


    Yeah, thanks whatnotever!

    Remember that natural gas is used a lot for heating, electric power generation, and as feedstock for chemical industry (like fertilizers), whereas coal I believe is mostly used for power generation. I.E., they aren't used as transport fuels at all.

    Two thirds... ay yi yi.
    posted by zoogleplex at 5:48 PM on August 31, 2005


    I had to move to another town when we bought a house, I would have loved to keep my dinky little two mile commute but the house would have cost twice as much.

    For many people, it is a luxury even to be able to buy a house. No one in my family drives (due to lack of money), and we have been restricted in both housing and job choices because of it. We have commutted 1 1/2 hours each way at times, on public transit that is not always so good or reliable (try waiting 1hr in the snow).

    We never had the nice downtown house with a walk to the store - my family is stuck out in the nasty industrial suburbs, that are all the worse for being designed for cars, not people. They just shut down the small mall across the street (where senior citizens used to gather to chat) and put in a Wallmart which has no pedestrian access - you have to cross a parking lot bigger than my high school's playing field. There is a lot of foot traffic from the south (where many poor people live), but they refused to put in steps down to the store (there is a slope) - instead they fenced it off and forced people to walk all the way around to the north. Interestingly, this is completely against the Toronto city planning policy (which calls for more pedestrian friendly development), but it didn't matter, because our councillor is an idiot and prejudiced against poor people (which in his mind is the only reason you would ever be a pedestrian).

    This is our car culture. People make claims about necessity because they can't afford to live in Manhatten, but really they don't realise that they've been given a wonderful gift of freedom not to be living in Washington Heights, because they have a car. (I'm not from New York, just near there now - to translate for Torontonians, the difference is between Swansea or Rosedale and Rexdale or Scarborough). They've moved out to Connecticut and Jersey (aka Richmond Hills and Mississauga).

    I don't think forcing everyone to live in cramped urban conditions is a good solution - I just got back from New York today, thinking about how some people love it, but the people and buildings just oppress me. But that doesn't just leave the other extreme of exurbs. Right now I live in a beautiful little city, old and dense with shops downtown (fewer shops than 50 years ago, but recovering from the very bad times 10 years ago), and lovely houses with mature trees, but not very large yards. It's a walkable city - and it's well connected to major urban areas by train. It would be nice if the train were as fast as a European one (which would make it totally commutable). But you don't have to drive to get groceries or go to a park.

    This is the model of small village and town structures with clearly defined centres and good transit connections that many urban planners have been trying to encourage. And by all accounts, it's one of the most pleasant ways to live. But that's not how development is working. The question is, why?
    posted by jb at 5:56 PM on August 31, 2005


    Man, I would totally show my patriotic spirit right now if it didn't cost $100 dollars to fill the tank on my SUV

    nyuck nyuck
    posted by chibikeandy at 5:56 PM on August 31, 2005


    "But that's not how development is working. The question is, why?"

    Because up until right now, gas has been dirt-ass cheap and everyone being able to drive has been a "given." Town planners who try to talk some sense have been shouted down by "bigger is better" and "white picket fence for everyone (who makes enough money" developers, resulting in huge sprawled out subdivisions.

    That is about to change.

    Sounds like where you live is the kind of place that will fare well, jb, as long as there is work to be had for the folks who live right there.

    Here in Los Angeles, however... phoo. I actually live in an area where the necessities of life - grocery store, laundry, hardware store, some clothing and shoe shops - are in walkable distance, except my place of employment which is 10 road miles away. Strangely, much of the LA city proper is divided up into these "little town" sort of neighborhoods, which are all butted up next to each other. This city may be save-able if it can consolidate these neighborhoods into "small towns" with some buffer zones in between them. But only as long as the water keeps being imported.

    The San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, Orange County and Riverside county - the quintessential car-based suburbs? Not so much.
    posted by zoogleplex at 6:07 PM on August 31, 2005


    Actually, being in the rust-belt North-East, it hasn't fared that well at all - a lot of poverty. It needs some kind of industry (whether that's manufacturing, or service based, like call-centres or something). But I think it's design has helped it stay more functional as a community (eyes on the street, connections between neighbours) than it would have been otherwise.
    posted by jb at 6:14 PM on August 31, 2005


    I'll know when we're becoming (more) serious when the car ads stop stressing performance--e.g., the Cadillac ad where the car backs up into the tunnel and then comes roaring out--and begin stressing economy, responsible driving, etc.

    In the middle of Michigan, and I imagine in other places as well, there seems to be a consensus price ($2.79 recently, then $2.99, today $3.19) that every station magically settles on. It would be interesting to find out how they arrive at that price, and why it's not illegal.

    Also--since it takes about 6 wks. for oil to make it to the gas pumps, why is it that an increase in oil prices means an immediate increase at the station, while a drop in oil prices takes a while to register.

    Got in line for a Prius last November, and picked it up at the end of June . . . 48.5 mpg at this point.
    posted by palancik at 7:22 PM on August 31, 2005


    Because up until right now...

    Just a reminder, cars have only been around 100 years. Most cities more than a hundred years old aren't really designed that well for cars. Then again, that means if you're west of the Mississippi, or non-urban you're probably not in the best position.
    posted by drezdn at 8:52 PM on August 31, 2005


    Blaming the president for today's gas prices is stupid. It was stupid when Clinton was in office, and it's still dumb now.

    Bush's failure to invest in real energy alternatives might affect gas prices 10 or 20 years from now... the prices today are just a combination of demand, and oil company profits.
    posted by mosch at 9:43 PM on August 31, 2005


    Places where houses are even close to being affordable are nowhere near where the work is creating an ever more vicious cycle of commuting further and further to get to work.

    Indeed, and even if you can afford one of those houses that's no guarantee you won't end up with a long commute to work. We were able to buy a house in a close-in east side neighborhood here in Austin (probaby spending twice what we would have spent for something in the suburbs), but for the past 8 months my employer has stationed me at a client's office way out in the hills on the other side of town. My 12 minute commute has turned into 30-40 minutes. Can't carpool -- nobody I work with lives anywhere near me (they mostly live out in the burbs). Way too far to bike (and in the summer you'd need a shower upon arrival, if the heat didn't kill you en route).

    I have a 1990 Volvo 240 -- not fantastic on mileage, but not horrible. I haven't bothered getting the AC fixed despite the 100F weather because that really eats up the fuel. Still, the gas bill is starting to sting. Wish I could afford a Prius.
    posted by boredomjockey at 11:29 PM on August 31, 2005


    Following that, won't food prices spiral upwards?

    Any product that needs transporting will go up, so we will all feel the pinch, whether we carpool, bike, or take public transit.

    b_thinky My god father has to drive a van because he's a musician; how the hell else is he going to drag all his gear around with him and get to gigs? You're suggesting he move to the city where each new gig is? Or that all musicians should quit and become accountants or some such instead, so they can bike to work? There are all kinds of lifestyles outside of the few you are familiar with, and not all of them can be adjusted and not all of them are of people's choosing: Lots of people cannot afford to move to the city where they work, yet the city they live in offers no job opportunities. Rock and a hard place, you know?

    Ontarians reading this thread who are looking for the best gas price in their 'hood should check this site. We found a gas station that's selling for 25 cents less than the stations by our house. 1.04 instead of 1.29.
    posted by zarah at 12:20 AM on September 1, 2005


    b_thinky: I know a couple that lives in Salem, OR. One commutes 50 miles to Portland daily and the other 80 miles the other way to Eugene. It's dumb...

    Especially because both could take the bus. If they drive two cars that far each day, they are almost certainly spending way more money than they need to on gas, car wear and tear, all-day downtown parking, stress relief remedies (heh), etc. Also, of course, they may not need to own the second car at all (or either car, for that matter) if they ride the bus, and that means saving on car purchase, repairs, insurance.

    For other people: if such a bus line doesn't reach your community, now would be a great time to start (or revivify) one. Talk to an existing bus company to see if they might be able to set up such a run from your town.
    posted by pracowity at 1:20 AM on September 1, 2005


    Thanks Aaron and linux. Heres hoping they have some links for Kubota tractors too.

    Buzzman, you have my ride!!!
    posted by a3matrix at 6:36 AM on September 1, 2005


    I haven't bothered getting the AC fixed despite the 100F weather because that really eats up the fuel.

    If you're riding with the windows open, the aerodynamic drag is generally a bigger hit on gas mileage than the AC compressor. Get it fixed, and enjoy a bit of comfort to boot.
    posted by jalexei at 7:05 AM on September 1, 2005


    moonbird: "Is there any other panic like this going on?"

    Yesterday gas prices here in Augusta, GA went from $2.57 to $2.99 over night. And now today they are up to $3.29. It was chaos at the gas stations yesterday, with enormous lines at every one that I saw. Ft. Gordon's gas station was apparently still selling at $2.34 yesterday evening and someone told me they waited in line for almost two hours to fill up. The fort ran out of gas sometime in the evening as did a few other stations around town. This morning it didn't look like too many people were at the pumps any more though, so either everyone filled up yesterday, or they all realized how stupid it was to waste a tank of gas by waiting in line for that long.
    posted by x_3mta3 at 7:28 AM on September 1, 2005


    jalexei: If you're riding with the windows open, the aerodynamic drag is generally a bigger hit on gas mileage than the AC compressor.

    Maybe. Maybe not.
    posted by pracowity at 7:32 AM on September 1, 2005


    After more searching:
    Consumer Reports' auto-test department reports that the air conditioner reduces your car's fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. So to achieve maximum fuel efficiency, motorists should avoid using the air conditioner at speeds below 40 mph and travel with their windows down, explains Gabe Shenhar, senior auto test engineer at Consumer Report's auto-test department.

    "But as your speed increases to 45 mph, or highway speeds," says Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy.com, "wind drag becomes an issue. Driving with the windows down increases the drag on your vehicle, resulting in decreased fuel economy by up to 10 percent. Drive at speeds over 55 mph with windows down and you'll decrease fuel economy by up to 20 percent or greater.
    So keep the windows open and the AC off when you're in town. If you're out breaking the speed limit, you might as well do it with the AC on, if your only option is to have the windows wide open.
    posted by pracowity at 7:44 AM on September 1, 2005


    I forgot the link to the previous quote. Sorry.
    posted by pracowity at 7:54 AM on September 1, 2005


    Thank you for fleshing out my generalization - As his commute sounded somewhat remote, I figured he was at highway speeds.
    posted by jalexei at 8:53 AM on September 1, 2005


    fungible writes "I don't own a car. I know this still affects me in other ways, but I'm kind of proud of that."

    I wonder how many people in NO were proud they didn't own cars?
    posted by Mitheral at 12:03 PM on September 1, 2005


    I wonder how many people in NO were proud they didn't own cars?

    Yes, that's a good idea - blame the people who are dying.

    The evacuation planned was completely flawed because it relied so heavily on privately owned vehicles. Why weren't trains running? Buses out of the city?

    Actually, I've been hearing that one of the reasons many people stayed in their own homes was that they had been in the Dome before and conditions were very bad. Considering the violence there now (at least two rapes, including of a child, people having their few possessions stolen), I can see why they stayed away.
    posted by jb at 1:54 PM on September 1, 2005


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