Energy Part 2


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In response to the article appearing in most major newspapers across the country concerning the $8.4 billion profit reported by Exxon. Concern over profits by this oil company has brought about accusations of gouging the American consumer. According to the article, "CEOs from Exxon and its industry peers have already appeared twice at Senate hearings and were asked to justify their profits shortly after reporting them to shareholders." This has to be an American first. I have never heard of a company being called to justify it's profits. One wonders if an extension of this idea could be made to other companies in other industries as well.

Per the article, "Lawmakers believe the profits are made on the backs of consumers who are paying a national average of $2.91 a gallon - 68 cents more than last year. Exxon says a strong commodities market combined with fortuitous planning and prudent management are producing record numbers." This should make Americans ask the fundamental question: what is the difference between what a public non-profit utility company provides and what a private for-profit oil company provides? Afterall, they both sell energy to all United States citizens. The difference is that natural gas and electricity are sold in the form of a public good whereas oil is sold in the form of a private good. Accordingly, on the grounds of promoting national security, the United States Congress should convert all oil companies to utility companies. This would eliminate the windfall profits and force the oil industry to earn just enough income to cover operating expenses just as natural gas and electric utility companies are required to do. The resulting drop in gasoline prices would further stimulate the economy and lighten the energy stranglehold upon the United States by the Middle East. It would also eliminate the influence of the oil lobby. In this case, desperate times call for deliberate measures.
Well, on the bright side, the rising prices have made people rethink their usage habits. The big behemoths of the interstate are being traded in for more economical, less polluting vehicles. Conservation only happens when it hits joe average in the wallet. Reducing our carbon footprint is essential if we ever hope to stem global warming to any degree.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. The latest data from the US deparment of energy indicates that in the latest four-week period that information is available for, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel demand in up compared to the same period of time last year.

Equally unfortunately, many places here in the US don't have adequate public transportation to get people out of their cars and onto trains, subways, and buses.

I've cut down on my driving, but I don't work outside the home and so I don't have to go out on a daily basis. A lot of people have no choice but to drive every day in many places here in the States. Another problem is that cities are getting so expensive to live in that many people are having to move to towns far from where they work and commute every day. Here in California, it is so expensive to live in the Bay area (especially in San Francisco), for example, that many people drive from as far away as the Central Valley, sometimes driving anywhere from 50 to 150 or 200 miles each way to and from work each day. It isn't what they want to do, in most cases, but they can't afford to live where they work on the salaries they make and there are no jobs where they live.