Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oily Open Forum

Alan Schlesinger is calling for the federal and state governments to suspend the gas tax for the summer. Well, at least he's thinking big.

He also wants to give oil companies more tax incentives to increase oil refinery capacity in the United States. Now there's an industry that's just crying out for more tax breaks!

In other gas-related news, zone pricing may soon be history in Connecticut.

Gas prices at the Mobil around the corner from me have been hovering at $2.99 for a couple of days, now. How about you?

What else is new today?

15 comments:

MikeCT said...

Beth Bye
Beth Bye, a West Hartford Board of Ed vice-chair and the Democratic challenger for state rep in the 19th district (West Hartford, Farmington & Avon) was interviewed on WTIC AM this week (mp3 audio) by Colin McEnroe. She discussed the issues that will be important to her, including education, transportation, and smart growth.

Rell presses snooze button on health care
Whatever one thinks of the merits of the health care plans of DeStefano and Malloy, at least they are discussing potential solutions to the problem of the uninsured. The New Haven Advocate provides a candid glimpse into the gaping emptiness of the Rell administration agenda for the state through a conversation with Rell spokesman Rich Harris:

But Rell doesn't have her own plan for covering the state's uninsured. So (I ask Harris) does she believe there's a health-care crisis? If not, why not? And if so, what's she going to do about it?

There's a long silence as as Harris considers those inquiries. "That's a good question," he says. "It's a fair question."

So where does the governor stand?

"I don't know," he confesses. "I honestly don't know."


The CT Post's Ken Dixon also identified health care as "an actual topic in an election year and a potential weak spot in Gov. Jodi Rell's seemingly impervious facade."

disgruntled_republican said...

GC-

Went to Feeding Hills to get gas Monday...2.80 a gallon

KerryGuy said...

Did Beth Bye address the proposed school start time change? Exiled Lt. Gov Sullivan's pet project so kids will be better rested. The D's are determined to push it through against fierce local opposition. But rather than stand up and vote for this mess, which they twice postponed right before elections, the Board has punted it off to an appointed commission that does not answer to the electorate. A real profile in courage. She will fit right in with all the other legislators who keep sticking their noses in family business.

And with the redrawn district, she will not beat Bob Farr.

ctkeith said...

Lieberman and Collins are now proposing abolishing FEMA.Tis was THE PREMEIR Federal agency before Lieberman Destroyed it by combining it with the joke that is known as the Dept. Of Homeland security.

Joe Liebermans time as the Chair of the Homeland Security Committee is reason enough to Dump him.The Idiot has made everything he's touched Less safe since 9/11 including ISRAEL.

Joe Lieberman is Osama Bin Ladens wet Dream as a Senato.Only W has given Osama bigger belly laughs.

stamfordpartisan said...

Tonight I saw a oil industry spokesman on the News Hour. What gall of that crowd to say that because crude prices are set by the open market, they make no profits when prices rise. That is absolute crap.

I'm not sure that democrats have the best line of attack, but I'm pretty sypathetic to the concept of taxing excess profits. Although, on a positive note, traffic has been light on I95 this week, and I heard that consumption was down 4% on some news show.

blueper said...

Ok, kerry guy, I get that you don't like the start time proposal (I'm fairly agnostic about it), but do you really consider it "family business"? And wow,how obnoxious of a Board of Education to think about the well-being of children.

Anyway, thanks Mike for the links. I think she came off pretty well.

And so what's the latest about Bob? Is he running or not? We all know he wants to be a judge - maybe he'll get to replace his boy Zarella.

Wolcottboy said...

I predict a 10 cent drop in gas prices by Saturday. This morning they already dropped 3 cents at Cumberland Farms in my town.

Bush's proposals to halt giving oil into the reserve fund, and abolishing tax credits to oil companies should continue to have positive effect on the pricing and stock trading. It seems there's a delay between the stock prices and savings being passed on. I suspect the retailers trying to lower their markup when the prices initially go up and trying to re-coup that when they start falling again.

MikeCT said...

The Universal Health Care Foundation of CT has begun airing ads with this theme, reports the Corner Report:

"A lot of powerful people don't want us talking about Conncticut's health care crisis," a voice-over says, "but it's costing our hospitals and doctors and affecting the quality of care for everyone. What can we do about it? Talk about it. At www.healthcare4every1.org."

The Web site promoted has videos of the ads, which aim to foster more public discussion of universal health care. These are the funniest issue ads I've ever seen - you've got to check them out!

In unrelated news, CT Bob has a video interview with John DeStefano.

GMR said...

There are a couple of issues at play here.

First, I'm all for tax cuts. Usually every time. I think income taxes should be lower, and in fact, I think most taxes should be lower.

However, I am not an anarchist, and I realize that the government needs to pay for stuff. I think that a lot of the "stuff" is unnecessary, but there is obviously some stuff that is necessary.

I don't have a problem with the concept of gas taxes. Frankly, I think that gas taxes and tolls, plus automobile registration fees and speeding tickets should basically cover the cost of building and maintaining our roads. Don't use this money for other stuff, and don't have regular taxes go into roads. Roads should basically be a separate budget, and gas taxes and tolls should be at whatever level is necessary to bring in the money to maintain and build the infrastructure. So not charging a gas tax doesn't seem all that realistic of a scenario.

Now, drivers near the border of MA or RI or NY can drive to those states if CT taxes are much higher than the neighboring states, so in some cases, raising the gas tax may actually lower revenue as people either drive less or fill up across the border. So CT needs to be mindful of what the neighboring states are charging (we're lower than NY but higher than MA or RI). CT is a small state: we aren't CO or WY, where most of the population has to drive for hours to cross the state line. Like all taxes, raising the rate may or may not actually raise the total amount brought in (raise the price high enough, and virtually everyone will run for the border to fill up over there).

Next, zone pricing. I'm not really in favor of the state meddling in how private companies can price their product. Does every oil company really practice zone pricing so that lower Fairfield county gas stations have to buy at higher prices than the rest of the state? It seems to me that if this were the case, some enterprising oil company would then try to grab more of the market by undercutting the others in Fairfield County. It just seems rather dubious that there's a true market failure here. Why doesn't some smaller oil company, like Getty or Citgo, undercut the big firms in Fairfield county?

Refineries. There hasn't been a refinery built in the US since 1976 or something like that (although existing refineries have been upgraded). This is another kink in the supply chain. There are all sorts of environmental restrictions against new refineries, and of course no one wants a refinery in their backyard. Add the problem that different states require different blends of gasoline, and you've got something of a refinery bottleneck.

Chris MC said...

Keith got remarkably close to stating a fact!
[FEMA] was THE PREMEIR Federal agency before Lieberman Destroyed it by combining it with the joke that is known as the Dept. Of Homeland security.

FEMA was wrecked by George Bush before 9/11 and the creation of Homeland Security, (which finished it off).

Responsibility for the implimentation of Lieberman's idea for a single cabinet level agency that would operate with the effectivenes of FEMA (under Clinton) is President Bush's (who was forced to do a 180 on the idea by overwhelmingly positive public opinion and press attention, and then claimed the idea as his own), and is just another glaring example of the utter incompetence of the Republicans when it comes to governance.

Let's give discredit where it is due.

Dave Mooney said...

GMR:

The cheapest gas in my town, Stratford, is a full-serve Citgo station. (As a bonus, it's close to my house on the way to I-95!) But if I ever have the misfortune of running low on gas when I get to work, I can pay 50 cents more per gallon in Stamford or Greenwich.

Is this a market failure, or the market working normally? It depends. What is often forgetten is that markets are constructed by the citizens as we see fit and not a force of nature. If the state caps the price of gas in Stamford, then the laws of supply and demand tell us that we may experience a shortage since producers would have less incentive to provide product to market. If a shortage doesn't come to pass, does that mean the producers were fixing the prices unfairly?

Re: gas blends... I believe the Feds now mandate a 15% oxegenate blend nationally and the only choices are MTBE, which has been banned in many states, and Ethenol. I'm not convinced blending is the issue unless we're not talking about the same thing.

I don't think oil companies are very interested in new refining capacity because they see future supplies dwindling. I believe new discoveries began declining around the same time refinery construction stopped.

MikeCT said...

Chris Murphy, Joe Courtney, and Diane Farrell have all been named in an internal DCCC list as being among the most promising Democratic challengers in the country. They will be targeted for special fundaising efforts over the next several weeks, meaning that one in seven targeted races in the country is in Connecticut.

disgruntled_republican said...

miikect

No big surprise there...Farrel almost won last time so its a given, simmons is always targeted and johnson is especially vulnerable this time. All will be interesting races

Wolcottboy said...

Rep. Sonya Googins (R-31st / Glastonbury) announced on the floor of the house Thursday that she will not seek re-election.

stomv said...


I don't have a problem with the concept of gas taxes. Frankly, I think that gas taxes and tolls, plus automobile registration fees and speeding tickets should basically cover the cost of building and maintaining our roads. Don't use this money for other stuff, and don't have regular taxes go into roads. Roads should basically be a separate budget, and gas taxes and tolls should be at whatever level is necessary to bring in the money to maintain and build the infrastructure. So not charging a gas tax doesn't seem all that realistic of a scenario.


Incomplete and myopic, but not off target. You're forgetting a few things:
1. Building roads is in itself bad for the environment. It increases problems of flooding and slides, it increases the amount of pollutants making their way into rivers and groundwater, and it cuts through animal habitat. It's also something that most people feel pretty NIMBY about, particularly big roads.
2. Building roads to allow for more vehicular miles allows for more air pollution (think: added cost to health care), more gas consumption (think: toll on foreign policy decisions), and more traffic accidents (think: increased strain on police, fire, and ambulence services).
3. Putting money into public transit can keep roads effective without piling on to the problems of (1) and (2). In a sense, it is paying people to stay off of the roads instead of paying to build more roads.


All three of these factors are also factors. I would claim that pouring more money into roads necessitates also putting more money into health care and emergency services. Taking some of the "auto-tax" related money and investing it into mass transit may result in keeping roads sufficiently open and reducing the added cost to health care and emergency services by keeping the number of vehicular miles lower.


The reality is that people aren't doing enough to reduce their gasoline consumption. Simply inflating tires to full pressure and not speeding would cut gas consumption by 25%. By reducing/eliminating gas taxes for the summer, you reduce this pressure to conserve. Simply put, without this price pressure, we're not going to migrate to other fuel sources. Furthermore, doing it slowly (like we are doing) is far easier on the wallets of the middle and lower income groups than putting off the conversion and then getting hit all at once. Keep the gas tax, and invest in transportation alternatives for your citizens. That's the responsible action.