“A good rule of thumb is that if politicians are talking about the price of gas, they’re talking nonsense. This week is no exception.”-Matthew Yglesias, Slate Magazine

Gas prices are on the move in the wrong direction. Again. Here in North Carolina, the highest price I’ve seen is $3.75, but I’ve heard it’s gone up to $5.09 in Los Angeles. Ludicrous.

And of course, the price of oil is once again part of a major debate between politicians on Capitol Hill, who seem to always want to point fingers. Republicans blame President Obama and his tax and environmental policies for rising prices at the pump, while Obama blames tensions with Iran, and increasing demand from China, India, and other emerging economies.

According to Timothy Gardner, author of Diminishing Resources: Oil, this should not have been a surprise to politicians. He wrote, “Americans began to wonder what life after cheap oil looked like when rising global demand helped push oil prices to $147 per barrel in the summer of 2008, contributing to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Drivers balked at the high prices and cut down on driving, which helped knock more than $100 a barrel off oil. But once the economy improves, analysts expect oil prices to head up.” They were right.

Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer and Co., told NPR that the recent price increases can also be traced to the fact that the U.S. has shut down several oil refineries in the past three months.

The supply of gasoline has been declining. We have 700,000 barrels of refining capacity [that were shut down] in the last three months,” Gheit said. “That is almost 5 percent of U.S. gasoline production … now offline…. Because the global market is much more lucrative than the domestic market, for the first time in our history we are not importing gasoline. Not only are we not importing gasoline, we’re actually a net exporter of gasoline.”

Gardner, who writes about oil for Reuters news service, wrote in Diminishing Resources that Modern America was built on a supply of cheap oil.” It’s not cheap anymore. Now we have to pay the piper.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about oil in the U.S., check out Timothy Gardner’s Diminishing Resources: Oil (ISBN 9781599351179)

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“As I have said for many years throughout this land, we’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization. Every bit of that has to change.” -Al Gore

U.S. gas prices are pushing toward $4 a gallon. With the summer driving and flying season right around the corner, this is bad news for travelers. Political unrest in the Middle East is blamed for the rising prices, and in a recent speech President Obama rolled out a blueprint for curbing our dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately, Obama is not the first president to promise and then fail to reduce energy imports.

The question is how did the U.S. become so dependent on foreign oil in the first place. You can find the answer to this question within the pages of Diminishing Resources: Oil (978-1-59935-117-9)a beautifully illustrated 112-page Morgan Reynolds book. Oil provides the historical background needed to understand how the U.S. got into its current situation, as well as explores how the country might pull itself out of this predicament with renewable energy sources, such as corn ethanol, wind and solar power, and even expanded domestic oil and gas production.

Diminishing Resources: Oil is one of four books in a Morgan Reynolds series that takes a hard look at how we’re managing, or mismanaging, the diminishing resources of oil, water, forests, and soil.

Veteran journalist Timothy Gardner, currently the energy and environment correspondent for the international news service Reuters, is the author of Oil. He writes that “In the summer of 1859, “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake drilled the first successful oil well in the United States.” Before the discovery of petroleum, Gardner explains that oil extracted from whales was used to light homes and businesses. (Read Morgan Reynolds The Great Whaleship Disaster of 1871 (978-1-59935-043-1) to learn more about the worldwide whaling industry and how it fueled the massive machinery of the thriving Industrial Revolution.)

Now, some 150 years later, the U.S. gets roughly half of its daily fuel needs from foreign oil. “And since OPEC countries have most of the world’s remaining oil reserves, the continued reliance on petroleum would likely increase tensions between the Middle East and consumers,” Gardner writes in Oil. He adds that “demand for oil is growing in a new part of the world. Early in the new century Asia became the world’s top region for growth in oil demand. A race is already on for oil from the Middle East and North Africa because China and India, which want to industrialize like the United States has, have little oil of their own.”

“One thing is certain, though,” Gardner concludes, “drillers will look to riskier frontiers—even to the ends of the Earth—for new oil sources.”

So what is our best bet? Stick with oil until it dries up? Build new nuclear plants? Modernize existing ones to prevent the kind of meltdown and radiation exposure Japan recently experienced? Put more money and effort into developing wind and solar power? Biofuels?

All of these options and more are explored in Diminishing Resources: Oil.

By Sharon Doorasamy (Managing Editor) and Adrianne Loggins (Associate Editor)

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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