Pump the Sump

September 17, 2012

Deep fog this early Monday morning along California’s northern coast — nothing unusual here, but along the Eastern seaboard and the Midwest heavy rains will soak people struggling to start the new workweek.
However, the way the air has been feeling up here lately, we’re going to most-likely have a much wetter winter ahead.

We are warned: Instability is a fact of nature. And hard as it may now be to believe, displacements from climate change will one day dwarf our worries about the economy.
And horror within that nasty, vicious circle of fossil fuels destroying the only environment this planet will ever possess will soon clink-clank into memory the old gas station visit – shale production will save us!
Yeah, right, ironically speaking, the world indeed is already on fire.

(Illustration found here).

And this morning there’s a lot of news, though, most of it has been enfolding over time — the anti-Islam video is still frying up the Middle East, even cutting into the US war zone in Afghanistan; the Chicago teachers’ strike continues, though, some kind of preliminary deal has reportedly been reached; and the UK’s royals are are getting more pissed at everybody trying to publish snaps of Princess Kate’s breasts.

One news item absent to any degree is oil and gas-pump prices — too much other shit that’s even worse, I’d guess.
And these pump numbers have a much-broader effect on the US economy than just about anything else, pushing up consumer prices in August at the fastest pace in more than three years: Gasoline prices, which also recorded their largest increase since June 2009, accounted for about 80 percent of the rise in consumer inflation last month, the Labor Department said.
In a society governed by mobility, high prices for fuel to move about will have a stagnating influence on dollars and cents.
If there’s no driving, then there’s no growth and with no growth…

From US News and World Report last Friday:

Gasoline has risen 16 percent since July 1 and is just 7 cents below the year’s high.
Kloza (Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service) thinks gas may rise a penny or two from its current average of $3.87 per gallon, but should decline starting in late September through Thanksgiving.
He sees an average of $3.50 to $3.75 per gallon in October.
The wild card for oil is the unfolding unrest in the oil-rich Middle East.
Protesters angry over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad began assaulting a string of U.S. embassies in the region four days ago.
Brent crude, which is used to price a number of international types of oil, rose 78 cents to $116.66 in London.
Kloza said an escalation in the Middle East situation could push Brent up as high as $125 per barrel and the U.S. benchmark as high as $120.
That would limit the decline in gasoline prices, he said.

There’s no limit up here in northern California.
Yesterday, I made my semi-weekly trip to the local Union 76 station and put another $20 worth of fuel in the old Jeep, this time at $4.49 a gallon for regular, up a dime since the last time.
Statewide, as of last Friday, the average pump price was $4.158, down 1.2 cents in the past seven days, and way-above the $3.944 per gallon average from a year ago.
Nationwide, it’s a little better, but way away from good: Figures released by AAA on Friday show the national average jumped 5 cents this week, raising prices to $3.87 for a gallon of regular gasoline. This is just 7 cents short of the year’s highest price — $3.94 set on April 5.
Which leads to this:

Higher gas prices are eating up a bigger share of Americans’ incomes.
Spending at the pump accounts for 8.2 percent of the typical family’s household income — just below last year’s 8.3 percent.
Those represent the biggest slice of household income spent on gas since 1981.
The typical household spends about $342 per month on gas.
Before prices began rising in 2004, households spent less than $200 per month.
Average gas prices are higher this year than last year.
But Americans are using less by driving more fuel-efficient cars and driving less.
Meanwhile, average wages, adjusted for inflation, have been flat, the Labor Department said Friday, adding to the squeeze.

High vehicle fuel costs are one of those slow moving horrors — sort of like climate change a few years ago — and won’t really rattle anybody’s cage until the numbers get way out of hand.
The so-called ‘wild card.’

However, not the above-mentioned ‘wild card‘ of the Middle East, but instead the whole deck-of-cards melting in the Arctic, where records haven’t just been broken, but smashed to smithereens:

“This is a defining moment in human history,” said Kumi Naidoo, director of Greenpeace International in Amsterdam.
“In just over 30 years we have altered the way our planet looks from space and soon the north pole may be completely ice-free in summer.
“Fossil fuel companies are still making profits despite the fact that climate change is so clearly upon us.
Our politicians are putting corporate interests above scientific warnings and failing in their duties to the public.”

Drill, assholes, drill.

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