OUR VIEWS: Time to stop supporting Big Oil

Sep 7, 2012

Where are the protests? Where are the scores of people proclaiming that they're going to carpool or buy mo-peds? Where are the congressional hearings?

Gas prices from general observation in Michigan last weekend ranged from a high of $4.28 per gallon to a low of $3.90.

A couple of years ago, when prices shot up to $4 per gallon, people everywhere complained — and loudly — that oil companies were evil to raise prices while they enjoyed outrageous profit margins.

At the same time, gas station owners, who have little say over prices and make their money mostly on concessions inside the store, are left out to dry on the front lines.

Shame on the oil companies for once again speculating on oil production as Hurricane Isaac came ashore and as the holiday weekend approached.

Perhaps because prices escalated gradually this time around there was less protest. Perhaps folks were simply too busy enjoying the holiday to let the prices bring them down.

But now that the excitement's over and it's clear that Isaac was no Katrina, fuel prices should drop, and quickly. If not, it is time to rethink our fuel usage and reduce our dependence upon the rich puppetmasters at the oil companies.

Let's stop dancing for them.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

GH Cyclist

I'm wondering what "stopping the dance" looks like for you? Every year gas prices go up and people do continue to complain loudly but that is all I hear and read. I want to hear about people actually making a change to their driving and fuel usage habits. Maybe someone will post on here about the change they are actually making to stick it to oil companies in their own little way and then those stories will encourage other people to make a change too. Gas can increase to $10 a gallon if it wanted to and it would affect me very little as far as travel because of the changes I have made commuting on my bicycle and even walking in this town.

Tri-cities realist

Sorry GH cyclist, but you are wrong. $10 a gallon gas WOULD affect the price of everything you buy, unless of course you grow all of your own food. And yes I know your comment was directed at travel. But how do all of the things "in town" arrive there? Yes, thanks to that "evil" substance called oil. Oh and by the way, do you buy anything made of plastic? I wonder where that comes from?

GH Cyclist

Like I said in my comment, it would effect my travel very little. I am not naive enough to think that $10 a gallon gas wouldn't affect everything else I buy, which is very little. You brought up some very valid points that hopefully other people who may not know all the reaches of oil will ponder. Would you like to share any ways in which you are reducing your use of gas or other products of oil?

Tri-cities realist

No... Because I'm not. We don't need any more job losses, including those who work in the petro chemical industry.

MeanSmith

Im going to ride my bike from now on.

christopher

If you do not want to be a gasoline consumer ... then don't buy it. That will drive the price down.

But in reality, I do not see this happen. Obviously people like to have something to complain about. They could make the change or they can complain and blame others. I do think that people would prefer to complain and write editorials instead of making the hard choices.

How about getting rid of all paper delivery? Require people take e-delivery.

How about getting rid of all sales offices at the Tribune and not allow "in-person" advertising sales calls to businesses. Require all of your sales people to make calls from their home using phone or email or texting or IM?

That is what I thought ... everyone likes to talk, but very few are willing to step up and make the hard choices.

Zeke

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements. Discussion Guidelines

DKS523

the last time I remember that the Government did anything about the gas prices was when Bush was President.

Stop supporting Big Oil? Most Americans have cut down their gas consumption. The only thing remaining is their drive from home to work. How much more can they give?

Tri-cities realist

Funny how when a democrat is the president, we don't hear much whining from the press about $4 a gallon gasoline. They wouldn't want to remind us that his job performance relating to the economy has been dismal. Who wants 4 more years of this? Not me thanks.

GH55

The President's job performance or the members of the Congress that have blocked his ideas at ever turn! Politics is compromise.

Tri-cities realist

Don't forget that Obama had 2 years with a democrat controlled house and senate. So don't blame the republicans. How much does Obama "compromise"?

Lanivan

You're promoting another "urban myth", tri-cities realist. Obama had a democrat-controlled house for 2 years, but the senate was democrat-controlled and they had the 60 votes to pass stuff for only a few months into his administration. Then Ted Kennedy died, and they had to rely on Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, 2 democrats in name only for the 60 votes. The senate could then filibuster every piece of legislature, which it did no matter how important it was to address the problems in this country. It only takes one person to call a filibuster, and everything is dead in the water. Please quit with the propaganda and take a minute to get the real story. The fact is that Mitch McConnell stated in the first month of the Obama administration that the Republicans "only goal" was to bring down Obama. NOT work to get us out of a severe recession and create jobs. It was make Obama fail even if it hurt the country.

truthhurts

bla bla bla,...obama still allowed big oil to run freely and obama is partially at fault by adding additional tax. Gas has gone up $2 b/c of obama. Have you read about GM financials lately...they are going to be bankrupt within' 2 years and ready for another obama bailout. Obama better tout about saving GM while he can...citizens will want his head when they see what happens in the near future.

newsblogger

The only thing Obama bailed out was Union workers.. he did not save the auto industry.. lets keep it real.

Wingmaster

How's that shoe fitting on the other foot! Like I say, we need leaders not politicians

Boater

The "Big Oil" companies only make 2 Cents per gallon of gasoline. They find the oil, refine it, deliver it. The Government makes 56.3 Cents per gallon of gasoline and WHAT exactly do they do besides take money FROM the taxpayers??? It was recently discovered that during the Granholm Administration (you know, that crazy lady who spoke at the DNC convention??) the gas tax money designated for roads and bridges was mismanaged and spent like a slush fund.

I don't blame Big Oil, I blame the Gov't who won't allow us to get oil from OUR Country and force us to buy it from foreign countries.

Tri-cities realist

And don't ever forget that the govt cannot give to someone what they first had to take from someone else.

Fly on the Wall

I sold my powerboat and bought a sailing yacht with money made on oil futures.

See you at the regatta, Thurston.

Tri-cities realist

Hahaha.... Brilliant move.

Lanivan

Big Oil - Can't live without 'em, can't live with 'em! Boater - your comments are ridiculous. Energy production in the US is at an all-time high, and foreign imports of oil at an all-time low. Your defense of Big Oil and loathing of gov't - Cry me a River!! Here are some facts that might be of interest: In 2011, the 5 largest oil companies - BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, & Royal Dutch Shell - with the highest oil price since 1864, $2 Billion in subsidies, yielding lower oil production than in 2010, still made a record-high $137 Billion in profits. This was up 75% from 2010, and they have made more than $1TRILLION in profits from 2001-2011. One might ask: What have they done with those profits? In 2011, the Big 5 have produced 4% less oil than 2010. They spent 38% of their profits repurchasing their own stock. They are sitting on more than $58 Billion in cash reserves. They spent $1.6 Million on campaign contributions and $65.7 Million on lobbying efforts. That's right - over $67 Million on influencing government in 2011 ALONE. WHY?? For every $1.00 on lobbying in Washington, they received $30.00 worth of tax breaks. Let's connect the dots: Big Oil=Extreme Profits=GOP=Tax breaks for the extreme wealthy=Romney/Ryan=Energy Policies dependent on Big Oil=Erosion of Middle Class. And to think our republican "Christian" guys - Romney/Ryan - want to dismantle Head Start for our disadvantaged pre-schoolers in order to "balance the budget".

Tri-cities realist

Lanivan, please do us all a favor and do something to increase the value of your life, rather than whining about things. While Boater's comments may seem rediculous to you, the truth hurts. Go look at the profits made by several industries and you will find that although oil companies profits seem huge, as a percentage their profits are quite "average". But apparently the "wealthy" aren't paying their "fair share". Please, somebody, anybody, explain to me how 2% of the population paying 70% of tax revenues is not WAY more than their "fair share". The sad truth is, the "un-wealthy" are the ones who are not paying their fair share, paying no income tax, and receiving subsidies from the govt, but will not get off their lazy butts to do some actual work in exchange for their subsidy. I wish some politician had the "brass" to say this.

And to the GH Trib staff... I believe the number was something like 90% of the oil rigs in the gulf of Mexico were shut down as Isaac approached the gulf coast. Haven't any of you taken Econ 101? As supply falls with no change in demand, prices will rise. Pathetic.

And for those who hate "big oil" please do yourself a favor and make sure you request that your 401(k), pension, and any other investments made on your behalf do not include ANY companies that have anything to do with the mining, refinement, or transportation of oil. The rest of us will gladly sit back and watch our nest eggs outpace yours. That's right don't buy anything made of plastic, dont buy anything that was transported using gas or diesel, am I making my point how silly this notion is? Now if you want to truly be self sufficient and produce all of your own food and clothing, more power to you, just don't forget you will not be paying your " fair share" since those things won't be taxed. Nomobama.

Boater

Only a fool would think that "Big-Oil" determines the price of oil. IF their profits increase its because they've been able to figure out a way to get the oil out of the ground more efficiently. It's funny that when Bush left office the average price for unleaded gas was approx $1.70 per gallon, now $3.90. How come the media isn't saying that Obama is padding the pockets of his Oil Buddies, you know, the guys he "Bows" to over in Saudi Arabia? Did you forget about that? How about the refineries that have been closed or taken off line because BO's EPA czars? Did you forget about that? How about the rigs in the Gulf that still haven't received permission to go into production 3 years after the hurricane, meanwhile China is drilling off the coast of Cuba, did you forget about that? Go drink your DNC/BO koolaid, Our Country cannot last with 4 more years of the disastrous BO Admin. Failure.

GH55

I guess the only thing to do is not use more than you should. Don't drive a behemoth! Reduce the commute, buy local!
Obviously, gas is not expensive enough, when people sit at the beach with the air conditioning on and the engine running, driving the kids to school, when a bus is available, leaf blowers, weed wackers, personal water craft, boats with 3 275hp outboards, four wheelers, a truck just for the sake of driving a truck, snowmobiles (although those didn't get much use last winter), ginormous lawn tractors for miniscule lawns, the list could on forever in this country.
When gas is the proper price then people will start to change their habits.
Whining and complaining will do nothing.
Change your habits, don't let the cost of gas or anything else dictate your life.
Drive a small car, use a rack, sail, ride a mountain bike, cross country ski, get rid of the lawn!
Who knows you may reap other benefits like a healthier life style!
Ride On!

Tri-cities realist

GH55, please enlighten us, what is the "proper" price of gas? When it becomes so expensive that nobody can afford it? Other than govt gas taxes, the price of gas is set by the market, people are free to buy it or not. If we could drill for more oil, and build more refineries (it's been what 30-40 years since a new one was built) we could have $2 or less gas. But the environmental lobby has been very successful influencing the EPA and other govt agencies to prevent this. Why is one of the products that has done so much to advance society, considered "evil"? The internal combustion engine, the automobile, and gasoline, have done more to improve our lives, than virtually anything else, with the possible exception of electricity.

GH55

Advanced society? I would argue otherwise! We already allow the BP refinery in Whiting, IN to dump over 5000 pounds of industrial sludge (including heavy metals) and 1600 pounds of ammonia into the lake EVERY DAY! I don't know about you, but that is the water I drink! Several years ago, they spent almost $4 Billion expanding the facility but there wasn't enough room to improve the water treatment facility. That is for a plant that produces about 400,000 barrels a day. How much other crap results from the millions of barrels a day we use in this country alone?
How many of our nations young people in the US Armed Services have died in our insatiable pursuit of Oil?
If the price is set by the market, then why is the current administration always blamed for the high price.
Burning fossil fuels is easy, cheap and dirty. We are already warned against eating the fish in the Great Lakes because of the high mercury content. We don't need to go into what all the CO2 is doing to our world.
My point was, that if people use gas for simple tasks, noisy blowers and weed whippers, and to keep the air conditioning running while they are sitting in a parking lot at the beach, and drive around in massive behemoths merely because they like it, its obviously too cheap. When we want to use a limited commodity for things like that, and this demand drives the price up, don't complain about it. Change your habits!

Wingmaster

Yup, keep settling for less until thats the new narrative! Wow, what happen to America!!

ghresident

I sure as heck wont give up my 1 ton dually diesel for a Prius even at $10 bucks a gallon.....

Wingmaster

Complaining a few years back was during a different administration! It was more attractive then for the media to make a story of the price of gas. 40 years ago during the "gas shortages" of the early seventies we were supposed to run out of oil in 20-30 years. Everybody started buying economy cars to help. Same cycle we are in now. Problem is no politicians then and now take energy independence seriously. We hear huff and puff to get votes and nothing happens. Just point fingers in the endless blame game while "we the people" continue to get shafted. We need real Leaders not pretty faces or cool people. Pay attention people, you can't make voting decisions on a handful of 10 second sound bytes.

zwesterhouse

A guy ran for state representative. He had a platform with energy independence and a web page detailing it. Did he get any votes? Nope - you people slapped in Amanda Price. What is she doing? Nothing. So keep paying and quit complaining. Vote her in again!

AtomicRooster

What part of WALL STREET do you all not understand? WALL STREET controls oil prices and gasoline prices. When are you all going to get it through your thick skulls. No matter what President is in the White House he cannot control oil prices and the cost of gasoline. Got it now?

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