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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Heat or eat

The American Petroleum Institute is running an ad on national news broadcasts that caught my eye: seems those wonderful folks are turning much less of a profit than their counterparts in pharmaceuticals, beverages and tobacco, computers and even apparel.

Noble stuff indeed -- just ask ExxonMobil, which now touts how it is environmentally friendly as it rakes in $11.7 billion in one quarter (that would be more than $45 BILLION in profit annually). Pity those poor investors who can't count on continued growth!

It's that time of year -- for oil and natural gas giants to try and inoculate themselves in advance of the reality that this year more Americans are likely to freeze to death because they won't be able to heat their homes.

Bitching about the price at the pump is one thing. We can try to cut down on our driving and for many people there are alternate forms of transportation.

But for many people, there aren't a lot of options, particularly elders living on fixed incomes of people losing their jobs in today's economy.

Chew on these facts:
The increase will have an especially dramatic impact on the nearly 1 million households that are heated with oil, which now sells for about $4.70 a gallon, up from $2.59 a year ago, according to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
I seem to recall the days when heating oil cost less than gasoline. And those were the days when we set aside $20 a week to pay cash so we could get a discount on the tank that was a major setback for people barely out of college and into the workforce.

Or this:
Natural gas customers also are expected to see significant price increases - about 15.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, UMass researchers said. In May, natural gas sold for $18.49 per thousand cubic feet, up from $17.03 a year ago, according to the US Energy Information administration, a statistical agency of the US Department of Energy. The institute based its findings on several sources, including US Census and federal Energy Information Administration data.
Yeah, pity the poor struggling oil and gas industry. The cause of the run-up is not directly their fault, but they have to sit back and rake in billions. And take political potshots at alternatives, like Joe Kennedy's Citizens Energy, which gets some of its stock from, gasp, Hugo Chavez's Citgo.

Howell Raines, he of the Jayson Blair New York Times fiasco, takes an interesting look at media coverage of the oil and gas industry, and how reporters are also gulled by the industry's propaganda machine.

Makes for some interesting reading. And you can always toss the hard copy of the magazine into the fireplace for some extra warmth this winter.

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Blogger dan bosley said...

Add to this the Bush administration's refusal to try to increase the low income fuel assistance program (LIHEAP). And the Republicans in the Senate refused to consider this unless the Democrats included offshore drilling,
I have heard that one of the reasons prices have gone up is speculation. there is a simple answer for that. We should demand that anyone who bids on oil futures should take delivery of those supplies. There are estimates that prices would be up to 30% lower if the speculators priced oil where it would be if they actually had to take delivery on all they bid.

August 04, 2008 7:56 AM  

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