It's a gas, man!

By Alan Caruba
web posted July 3, 2000

While paying the highest prices for gasoline this summer, Americans are asking, "Why?" This is a good question. Do not expect the mainstream media to provide a good answer. They are joined at the hip to the Clinton administration's party line, so you have to look elsewhere for the truth. One good place to look is, the Internet site of the National Center for Policy Research.

On June 23, they drew a direct line between the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations and the fuel gas price hike. In brief, the EPA requirement that one-third of the nation's gasoline supply be reformulated gasoline (RFG) for the supposed purpose of reducing air pollution is one of the primary reasons why you are paying a lot more, but getting, may I add, nothing in return. We all know you would pay almost anything to breathe pure oxygen, but it's not going to happen. For one thing, the earth is a great gaseous thing oozing and leaking what the EPA calls "pollutants" into the air all the time. It does this from forests, swamps, oceans, volcanoes, your front lawn, et cetera.

More specifically, however, a May 1999 report from the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, concluded that RFG would do little to reduce air pollution. You can read the details at the NCPR web site. Suffice it to say a panel of twelve presumably very smart scientists and engineers concluded that oxygen additives have only a minimal impact on reducing smog. But we know you will pay anything to clean up the air, won't you? You don't really mind gas that costs more than $2 and rising, do you?

Clinton and Gore want you to believe it's those terrible price-gauging oil companies that are really to blame. They are, as is always the case, lying to you. The oil companies will tell you the price has something to do with the continued rise in the cost of crude oil and that might have something to do with the Clinton-Gore administration's request to the OPEC nations to pump less. Supply and demand. Less drives up the price of anything. Now, it is useful to understand that it costs a lot of time and money to produce RFG.

The EPA knows this. The EPA doesn't care. The EPA's so-called science isn't worth spit. What the EPA cares about is forcing up the cost of gas to force Americans to drive less. This is why they also require insane, unnecessary auto inspection systems that don't work and those highway lanes only cars with two or more people can use.

This is yet another EPA plan comparable to their push for the use of ethanol in gasoline to clean the air. The problem is that it requires lots of energy to produce ethanol that comes first by growing lots of corn, an energy intensive activity. In a summer where acres of corn are withering as the result of droughts in various areas of the nation, it doesn't take a genius to figure out this is a bad idea. Moreover, the ethanol lobby is maintained by government subsidies, i.e., your tax dollars. Add that to the tax dollars you pay every time you fill up.

The entire Green movement is utterly and insanely devoted to getting Americans to stop using oil for any reason whatever. (I suspect that most Americans and others have no idea that everything plastic begins as oil.) In the 1990 edition of "The Population Explosion", a book by Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich, the authors reflected the Green view of gasoline saying, "The United States should start by gradually imposing a higher gasoline tax-hiking it by one or two cents per month until gasoline costs $2.50 to $3.00 per gallon, comparable to prices in Europe and Japan." On the dust cover, Al Gore endorsed the book saying, "The time for action is due, and past due. Erhlich has written the prescription."

Here's what Al Gore says about the automobile: "We now know that their cumulative impact on the global environment is posing a mortal threat to the security of every nation that is more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront." This is lunacy.

If people in the 1930's had read and taken seriously the views of Adolph Hitler's screed, Mein Kampf, in which he wrote of the need to "eliminate" the Jews of Germany and Europe, they might have avoided World War II because he spelled it all out well before the first tank rolled into Poland. We need to take Al Gore seriously when he talks about the need to "eliminate" the internal combustion engine and cut back on the use of every form of energy known to man other than oxen, mules, and horses. If you think Hitler was a lunatic, than you had better give some thought to Gore's views.

We are not running out of petroleum. Every time we think we are, we discover more. However, huge oil reserves in Alaska are, at this very moment, in the process of being put off limits to any use by the same Clinton-Gore conspiracy to insure that you will pay, not just $2 a gallon, but more like $6 a gallon. That will make the OPEC nations very rich and make you very poor.

Now, let me state clearly that I am for clean air. The air is cleaner in many respects thanks to the Clean Air Act passed in 1970, but like everything else in life, there are tradeoffs. At some point, one has to ask how much it is worth in billions of dollars to protect against air the EPA deems to be too polluted? Is the science behind such determinations accurate? How much are we willing to pay to significantly upgrade or close down utilities throughout the US that depend on cheap, efficient coal use to provide the electricity this nation requires? Does it make sense to eliminate dams providing hydroelectric energy because of some salmon that hatcheries can provides in abundance? Do we really want to make it so expensive to transport goods (most moves by truck) that the cost of everything goes up? Do we really want to force people to use mass transit and forego the use of automobiles? Do we really want to pay high prices for gasoline? It's easy to say yes. It's harder to pay for draconian measures to achieve this if you have plans to send your children to college, buy a new car, paint your home, or to have anything in the bank when you retire.

Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, and founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information on scare campaigns.

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