Stop gouging us, oil companies! | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

E-mail Diana Diamond

About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

View all posts from Diana Diamond

Stop gouging us, oil companies!

Uploaded: Mar 17, 2022
Since the 1970s, I have been suspicious of the constant escalating gas pump prices, especially the leaps we are now seeing because of the oil companies’ fears that some global event may dampen their available oil in the future. So, they simply are increasing their rates now, o to protect their prices and profits.

I think Americans have been duped for years by oil companies, as we have been forced to accept the hikes, while the legislators in this state – and in Congress – doth not protest. Nor do they seem to explore the rising gas prices issue.

Perhaps that’s because gas companies have been very generous to politicians and especially to candidates running for office. So far in 2022, Democrats received $3.0 million in funds from these companies, while Republicans were given $5.8 million.

Not surprisingly, more than two-thirds of their campaign gifts go to Republicans, although recently those companies have handed a bit more over to Democrats. In 2020, Trump received $6 million in donations; Biden got $3 million. The companies had their bases covered.

A recent analysis by Common Dreams, a nonprofit news investigatory group, shows that 25 of the world's biggest fossil fuel corporations collectively brought in an amazing $205 billion in profits last year—and Big Oil is exploiting Russia's war on Ukraine to charge even more at the pump in 2022 and advance its financial interests.

Last year's record profits came as average gas prices in the U.S. steadily increased, hitting around $3.40 per gallon in December 2021, up from $2.10 a year before. As consumer demand rose last year following a brief coronavirus-driven decline in 2020, shareholders pressured fossil fuel corporations to restrict supply to drive prices higher, according to several newspaper reports.

This year, as we painfully know, California is at the highest level ever – gas this week rose to $5.75 a gallon price in the Bay Area, with no drop in sight. Cost of gas has gone up 79 cents a gallon in two weeks.

I don’t think that the two-and-a-half-week-old Ukrainian War produced this soaring hike in prices, not did the pandemic alone. No, let’s just call this pure simple greed on the part of these energy companies, who convrniently seem to be working together.

My other concern is the “mystery charge” – a tax gas users have been paying since 2015. No one seems to know where it came from or why it’s there. That cost motorists about $4 billion the last five tears, Individual motorists paid about $500, according to the Mercury News.

The only hope is this week, State Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat, introduced a bill that would require oil refiners to disclose the average amount they pay for crude oil and then what they sell it for – to better determine their profit margins. Somehow, since 2015, that mysterious charge is costing us 40 cents for each gallon we purchase, according to a UC-Berkeley economist, Severin Borenstein.

I am glad Allen is going after the energy companies It’s about time. Other legislators must support him because big oil companies are gouging us. Once Allen gets his information, I hope he and the full legislature will go after theses greedy gougers.

Because enough is enough.




Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by Byron Lake, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Byron Lake is a registered user.

This is nothing new as gas companies are one of the biggest corporate crooks in America going back to John D. Rockefeller.

J.R. Ewing would be proud & welcoming of the current gas price hikes as manipulating the consumer gasoline market is how these deplorables line their pockets.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Wesley Townsend, a resident of another community,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Wesley Townsend is a registered user.

The United States should have assumed total control of the Iraqi oilfields following the post 9/11 military campaign in Iraq.

Americans should not be forced to pay exorbitant prices for gasoline.

About $1.50 + nominal taxes per gallon is reasonable considering that the United States spends a lot of taxpayer dollars on foreign aid.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 1:49 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Thank you, Diana.

"Perhaps that's because gas companies have been very generous to politicians and especially to candidates running for office. So far in 2022, Democrats received $3.0 million in funds from these companies, while Republicans were given $5.8 million."

Agreed.

Bernie Sanders recently shared this tweet: "Why is the price of oil LOWER today than it was in 2014 while the average price for a gallon of gas nationwide is 80 cents a gallon HIGHER than it was eight years ago? Answer: Corporate greed. Now is no time for profiteering. Now is the time for a windfall profits tax." - Web Link

This situation is related to another topic that you recently weighed in on: "Propaganda, disinformation invade our lives -- here, and in Ukraine" - Web Link

Powerful players in this country "control the message" in order to put out disinformation to explain away their actions with excuses that seem reasonable to Americans who are not paying close attention to the details. And most Americans don't really have time to pay close attention to the details, so the schemes work.

It does not make logical sense that the lower oil prices result in higher gas prices.

Remember: price gouging is LEGAL until politicians take action to pass laws against it.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 4:27 pm

Eeyore (formerly StarSpring) is a registered user.

and, related, let us not forget the huge subsidies we pay to farmers to grow corn for ethanol.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 5:38 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

These arguments keep starting in the middle of the problem - not the beginning of the problem. Under DT we had the Keystone pipeline in process and drilling in locations which produced clean petroleum. Our petroleum is very clean - better that Russia's.
Then when Biden came in the first thing he did was shut down the Keystone pipeline and effectively state that he would stop any oil production on US soil. However he approved the Russian pipeline which would go to Germany and fuel the EU states. That does not make sense. He provided the cash inflow to Russia for oil, and cut us off.
That is the beginning of the problem we are looking at now. The oil companies have huge investments in processing plants and a large employment force. That is a lot of investment that got shot in the foot. Legislation is now going forward to reverse this non-sensical, self-defeating activity which will also help Canada.

Petroleum is an ingredient of many products which do not go in your car. It is a valuable resource in it's own right.

While in Hawaii on TV was a Johnny Carson show. His opening monologue was about the price of oil, Russia, and IRAN/IRAQ. We are going backwards. We are in regression.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 7:29 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I was going to say something along the lines of the previous commenter. This is down to Biden who basically did this to spite his predecessor. Biden spent too much time and effort negating so much done in the previous 4 years. It almost seemed like he would argue hot was cold just because he could. Resident 1 you said it better than I was trying to say.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 18, 2022 at 10:15 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Just as in Russia, the US has its own crooked "oligarchs" or as in this situation "oilgarchs." Time to expose them and reduce their power.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 18, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Resident is a registered user.

for all we know, if "president" biden didnt deliberately kill our energy independence putin may have not been emboldened to attack


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Etienne Malbec, a resident of another community,
on Mar 19, 2022 at 7:44 am

Etienne Malbec is a registered user.

The United States should have seized all of the Iraqi oilfields following the collapse of the Sadaam Hussein regime and designated it for American consumption with fixed consumer price ceiling of about $2.00 per gallon.

Then we wouldn't be having this discussion.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Raoul, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Mar 19, 2022 at 8:34 am

Raoul is a registered user.

I agree with everything you are saying. My only suggestion would be to maybe change your headshot to show you actually clutching at your pearls.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 19, 2022 at 10:41 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The US is sitting on good, clean petroleum. We had energy independence and were able to ship excess to Western Europe. That is a win-win. Trying to manage foreign countries and their resources is not a win-win. They end up hating us.

Some think we need to be in every body else's business. That has got us no where. We need to go be in our business and quit interfering with other countries resource pools.

Seizing oil fields in foreign countries is a continuation of why people hate us.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Bill Conway, a resident of another community,
on Mar 19, 2022 at 11:48 am

Bill Conway is a registered user.

> "Seizing oil fields in foreign countries is a continuation of why people hate us."

To seize or not to seize foreign oil is immaterial because the majority of despotic countries hate the United States anyway.

Besides, many American military members were either killed or injured during the last Iraq/Afghani war.

To the victors go the spoils and besides, who actually cares about Iraq or Saudi Arabia other than for their oil?

Rather than paying $6.00 a gallon for gas I'd much rather pay $2.00 + moderate taxes than be held hostage by these backwards desert people.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Misha Abramowitz, a resident of another community,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 11:06 am

Misha Abramowitz is a registered user.

By reviving the Keystone pipeline and cutting federal restrictions on fracking, America can become less reliant on the totalitarian whims of Russia and the Middle East.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Jim Takamoto, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 11:53 am

Jim Takamoto is a registered user.

America should not be held hostage to either the Russians or the Arabs when it comes to oil.

The United States only imports 7% of it's oil from Russia and these purchases have since been recinded by the Biden administration.

Now let's do the same with Saudi Arabia.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Phyliss Johnston, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 8:48 am

Phyliss Johnston is a registered user.

I agree that the United States should have turned Iraq into an exclusive oil-producing territory for our country.

Modern day wars have been fought for a reason, either to procure additional natural resources or for a viable source of cheap human labor (or both).

We should not be paying over six dollars a gallon for gasoline when oil is so plentiful but in the wrong hands.

Once we use it all up, electric cars can then be implemented on a far larger scale.

Venezuela is another option. By coordinating a political coup, the United States could gain further access to the Maracaibo Basin and the shipping distances to nationwide refineries on the west coast would be easily reduced due to the Panama Canal.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Chris+Dewees, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 8:51 am

Chris+Dewees is a registered user.

Prices go up and someone inevitably trots out the usual "gouging" pejorative. Gas prices are determined mostly by the global market price for sweet crude oil, which is determined by near-mid term supply and demand forecasts. Supply is a function of regulation (OPEC and Russia) and market forces (U.S., Canada, etc.). In addition, governments increase gasoline prices through taxation, subsidies to other industries (ethanol, unique ingredient requirements (i.e., California) and increasingly "green" imperatives that hamper supply improvements. Moreover, integrated oil companies make enormous investments in R&D, capital and exploration. These investments tend to increase when times are good (high oil prices fuel encourage investment) and decrease when times are not so good. Finally, like all other private companies, shareholders are rewarded when profits are up. This is capitalism. The alternative is nationalization, which never lowers prices. You want lower gas prices, increase supply by opening up more proven reserves to drilling, eliminating subsidies and getting rid of California's ridiculous unique blend requirements.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chris+Dewees, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 8:51 am

Chris+Dewees is a registered user.

Prices go up and someone inevitably trots out the usual "gouging" pejorative. Gas prices are determined mostly by the global market price for sweet crude oil, which is determined by near-mid term supply and demand forecasts. Supply is a function of regulation (OPEC and Russia) and market forces (U.S., Canada, etc.). In addition, governments increase gasoline prices through taxation, subsidies to other industries (ethanol, unique ingredient requirements (i.e., California) and increasingly "green" imperatives that hamper supply improvements. Moreover, integrated oil companies make enormous investments in R&D, capital and exploration. These investments tend to increase when times are good (high oil prices fuel encourage investment) and decrease when times are not so good. Finally, like all other private companies, shareholders are rewarded when profits are up. This is capitalism. The alternative is nationalization, which never lowers prices. You want lower gas prices, increase supply by opening up more proven reserves to drilling, eliminating subsidies and getting rid of California's ridiculous unique blend requirements.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Daphne Taylor, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 9:30 am

Daphne Taylor is a registered user.

"You want lower gas prices, increase supply by opening up more proven reserves to drilling, eliminating subsidies and getting rid of California's ridiculous unique blend requirements."

Agree. We must do anything possible to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

American drivers of gasoline powered vehicles have become hostages to backwards countries who have little to offer except for their oil.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by resident, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:17 am

resident is a registered user.

I am so fortunate that I can walk pretty much everywhere - to my job, to the store. It would be great if Palo Alto could follow the example of Denmark where pretty much everyone rides a bike and owning a car is both expensive and not necessary. We would reduce effect of high gas prices, reduce carbon emissions, and make us healthier and happier.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Pete Blass, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:31 am

Pete Blass is a registered user.

> I am so fortunate that I can walk pretty much everywhere - to my job, to the store. It would be great if Palo Alto could follow the example of Denmark..."

Easy for you to say as it all depends on one's proximity (aka location) to their shopping needs.

And trying to compare Palo Alto to Denmark is like comparing apples to oranges except that Denmark has natural blondes rather than mass colorations


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:38 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The Opinion editor of the SFC wrote a large opinion piece on SUV's that gouge the gas market. His take - SUV's are evil. So the opinion editor of the SFC has no children, no pets, and goes no where. Our SUV was filled with bags of soccer balls, containers of fruit and water for the kids, and later a place for a large dog that liked to go on trips but needed a place to be anchored and lie down. People buy cars to suit their lifestyle. That SFC editor has a single person lifestyle. Many older people are no longer transporting children and pets so their view of the world is based on what they have going on in their lives.

Fact - gas stations are owned by individuals - like a franchise. They are paying the taxes, insurance, employee salaries and employee taxes, etc. That is their business. They have to gage the cost based on what their supplier is telling them and what the government is charging them as individual businesses. The CA tax base is not supportive- we have the highest taxes in the country.

Note that we are a Pacific rim state - one of the youngest in the US. We are not the equivalent of a European country, or an east coast state. All of those entities are centuries ahead of us in history, city layout, and population growth.

Some think we are suppose to look like Manhattan - people are fleeing Manhattan. Quit with all of the comparison's in which we come up short. Why don't they learn from us.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Adrian Richter, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 12:08 pm

Adrian Richter is a registered user.

SUVs are the family station wagons of yesteryear.

The problem...everyone who drives these gas-guzzling, oversized eyesores are not necessarily people with families but rather pseudo-outdoors people who are not off-road enthusiasts or avid skiers traveling to the mountains during the winter months.

SUVs and expensive flagship smartphones are mundane symbols of a modern world lacking individuality and a collective soul.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Matt, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 1:52 pm

Matt is a registered user.

Here's a counter view. Don't want to pay high gas prices? Get a BEV or PHEV.

And to those advocating for low has prices? Cost to bring gas to market plus reasonable costs ignores the external costs of CO2 emissions. You want renuable transition to accelerate? High gas prices are your friend.

We still pay less than Europe has for a long time, and now there is whining like kids who have limits on TV time.

The are oil COMPANIES! They are not a utility and are not your friend. They exist to make profits and they don't care about what you think or feel.

Stop buying cars that go 0-60 in under five seconds. Stop buying huge trucks and SUVs.

Stop complaining about the expense of gas and start doing this that mean you buy less.

My family has logged over 100k all electric miles. I drive by gas stations and charge at home at night. There are huge subsidies to go electric. Use them.

And you know what? Some bottled water is STILL more expensive than gasoline!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by James Pistorino, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 6:13 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

The idea that the "big oil" companies are gouging consumers is preposterous.

Unless, you have some information the rest of us are lacking, "big oil" wants to make just as much money in Texas as they do in California. So, with their price gouging approach, obviously, the gas prices will be the same in both States.

Today, the average gas price in Texas is $3.92/gal.
Today, the average gas price in California is $5.85.
See Web Link

What gives? Do they like people in Texas more than California? Doubtful given that they are driven to make money from anywhere. Could there be other factors that make it more expensive to provide gas in California such that, if they want to earn the same profit, they have to price gas higher here? Bingo!

California has the highest gas taxes in the nation at $0.511/gal. On top of that, there are federal excise taxes of $0.18/gal. On top of that, there is also State and local sales taxes of a minimum of 7.25%. These are just the direct taxes.

In addition, California requires different blends of gas than the rest of the country and requires different blends in the Winter than in the Summer. These change overs cost money. In addition, this means that you can't just take gas from Nevada, e.g., and sell it in California. Thus, you have to supply crude oil specifically to California refineries to make California specific gas (and that incurs transport costs) and it does not make sense to sell expensive California gas in cheap Nevada. See Web Link

So, if you want to know why prices are so much higher here than in Texas, just look in the mirror because you voted for it. Alternatively, you could be a Republican.

Gas prices nationally are driven by national supply costs and the international market. National supply costs can be driven up by restricting supply (e.g., the Keystone pipeline). If you voted for Biden, then you are responsible.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:47 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Gee James - it took you long enough to get to the bottom line. Yes - we were ahead of the game until Biden came in and reversed EVRYTHING. [Portion removed.]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by John Donegan, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 9:48 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

A price rise is predictable any time you restrict the supply of something. The Biden administration's war on fossil fuel has been designed to raise the price in order to force us into electric cars, public transit and bicycles. The premium that Californians pay for their special gas formulation, and for the highest gas taxes in the nation, also contribute. But it is easier to blame big corporations than the voters for their freely made choices.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Paul Gerrity, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 11:30 am

Paul Gerrity is a registered user.

The dinosaurs died for a reason...to provide mankind with fossil fuels.

Blame the greedy oil corporations and Arabs for exploiting this 'all-natural' gift from Mother Nature.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Anneke is a registered user.

It is so easy to criticize everyone else, but what can WE do?

1. If you can, take the train or bus to work.
2. If you cannot, then form a car pool. A group of four carpoolers in one car takes three cars off the road.
3. Again, if you can, walk or bike to the supermarket, rather than hop in the car for short distances.
4. Reduce the number of unnecessary cars you own.
5. Reduce the use of gas guzzling SUVs.
6. In your home, put on an extra sweater if you are cold.
7. Use electricity reducing items in your home.
8. Shut your computers and televisions down at night and disconnect the plugs.
9. Recycle all plastic products.
10. Buy from local farmers' markets, fresher, healthier and fun.
11. Buy American-made as much as possible, thereby reducing the diesel mileage from far away places.

I am sure there are many, many more initiatives that can reduce one's gas and oil usage.

An extra benefit is that walking and biking will help improve and maintain your health. It will decrease obesity in this land of plenty.

WE can make a difference! "Do not ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Anneke above has listed out some ideas and I will add to the list.

Eat locally sourced food in season. Learn to cook food made from real ingredients that were grown locally. Stop eating food made in factories, particularly in factories hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.

Eat at home rather than continually eating out, especially if it means a car trip with no other purpose. Additionally, stop ordering delivery food, cook at home.

Stop the hype about fake meat products, they are bad for the planet. The same about hype of almond milk, almonds take up large amounts of water and bees are killed. In the same way that importing strawberries from south of the equator, we should be careful about the source of our foods.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 7:07 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I love the comments about gas guzzling SUV's. People buy them or a reason - they are higher off the ground in flooded areas. Marin County is usually flooded on 101 and 34. People who have one lifestyle trying impose another lifestyle. Little tyrants living in their own bubble. It is clear why people with children move out of this place. I don't have an SUV but am going to get one. Need to get up to Tahoe.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chuck Neubauer, a resident of another community,
on May 13, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Chuck Neubauer is a registered user.

I would suggest this blogger return to the data on the price of oil in April 2020
and refresh her memory on the impact that not- so- fun fact had on oil companies.
We are a market driven economy . Mr. Biden's initial foray into his presidency resulted in the closing of Keystone . This has an immediate impact on supply ; and , therefore on prices . This administration prefers to help Americans in a financial pinch with legislation , which is oft times , as well as now , futile .
Keep the market free of political meddling , move forward with bi-partisan efforts
to create a greener planet with a methodical approach that doesn't require turning the fossil fuels switch off and the green energy switch on . It's not that simple.
But this takes leadership to merge these two highways , so to speak , to really
accomplish the main goal - to ensure that our grandchildren inherit a planet that is sustainable for their grandchildren.
The question remains , do we have the leadership ?


Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.

Email:

SUBMIT

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

E-Bikes on Open Space Trails: Yes or No?
By Sherry Listgarten | 18 comments | 5,383 views

Mountain View's Castro Street opens up for an eat-and-greet to rally support for businesses
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,229 views

The questionable morality of abortion
By Diana Diamond | 7 comments | 2,006 views

Idaho Hot Springs and Yellowstone – Travelin’ Solo
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,177 views

Fidelity, Infidelity, Loyalty, Luck
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 875 views

 

Register today to support local nonprofits

The 38th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 9. Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually to support local nonprofits.

Register Now!