Gas prices aren't high enough

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006

s_RobinMany are mourning that gas hit $3 a gallon, but I’m rooting for it to reach European prices...say around $6 a gallon. That might be painful enough to get Scary Big SUV beside me on the road to dump the gas monster. It might hurt enough to get gutless political weasels to line up behind clean-energy policies. Maybe it would be enough to make us 12-step our way out of our infamous addiction to oil.

We kick our addictions only when we really, really have to. Paying $3 a gallon will break a few minor bad habits, but it isn’t going to turn a Big Oil politico into an action hero or cure my driving jones. And don’t try to slip me a $100 bill in the meantime; it isn’t nearly enough to subsidize my own hypocritically low-mileage pickup.

I know we don’t have the compact cities, the public transportation or the will (and necessity) to use our own two feet like the Europeans. But faced with sustained higher gas prices, we would find ways to reduce our dependency on oil because we would have no choice. It would force change in all of us: consumer, politician, business owner, investor.

If oil is never again cheap — and that’s what many analysts are now predicting, telling us we’ll never see $2 a gallon for gas again — it will be economically smart for investors to make long-term bets in alternative and renewable energy. Voters will force those they elect to develop alternative fuel sources, build more public transportation, create less sprawl. When we can’t afford oil, we’ll become passionate about conserving it. I see a whole line of Jimmy Carter oil-shortage sweaters.

I might get my wish sooner than I want as the summer begins with several dubious achievements already reached.

First, there is peak oil. That long-debated and fearfully anticipated moment when expected world oil output falls short of global demand finally arrived earlier this year, according to some oil watchers.

We’ve also reached peak self-delusion. As of May, there were only 22 businesses in all of Oregon that were participating in the state transit pass program, for which they receive a business tax credit. According to AAA, Oregonians are not driving any less because of the recent rising prices, a fact that mirrors the rest of the country. And, as our clean-energy cover story this issue points out, Oregon seriously lags behind many other states in clean-energy progress. We aren’t living up to our own hype as green do-gooders.

Lastly, we can’t forget our old friend, peak self-interest, which so aptly characterizes the last legislative session.

But let’s imagine a better future in which business, environmental and government leaders find common ground for the good of the state and adopt in the upcoming legislative session mandates that make Oregon an energy leader instead of a laggard.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has put forth an energy platform that calls for renewable resources to meet 25% of Oregon’s energy needs by 2025. It includes incentives for energy developers to invest in renewables, supports the development of biofuels and recommends new state tax credits to encourage investment in the energy sector.

If legislators from either party or the myriad special interests don’t like Kulongoski, his energy platform or the hybrid he rode in on, then they need to bring forward their own ideas, because doing nothing to support alternative energy is unacceptable. Legislators and lobbyists need to lead, follow or pull their oil-dependent vehicles over to the side of the road.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. High fuel prices are here to stay. There will be no last-minute rescue by an action hero driving a Hummer.

— Robin Doussard
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Undersea Power

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Mike Morrow and Mike Delos-Reyes first came up with the idea of an ocean power device 23 years ago, when they were students at Oregon State University. They realized a long-held vision last summer, when their startup, M3 Wave, successfully launched the first ocean power device that works underwater.


Read more...

Up in the Air

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON

Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

Queen of Resilience

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.


Read more...

Credit Unions Perspective

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Gene Pelham, CEO of Rogue Credit Union.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS