IJMC The Not So Great Gas Out

                    IJMC - The Not So Great Gas Out

   Ok, I'm officially really tired of seeing this one. So, now I'm backing
up my thoughts with facts. This just isn't a good idea, or even a good
prank. If boycotting gasoline for a day made a good prank, I'd be behind it.
Read on, if you will.

> -----Original Message-----
>                 >>>>>> > THE GREAT "GAS OUT"
>                 >>>>>> > It's time we did something about the price
>                 >>>>>> > of gasoline in America!  We are all sick and
>                 >>>>>> > tired of high prices when there are literally
>                 >>>>>> > millions of gallons in storage.

   I think this is what annoys me the most about this entire idea, "the
price of gasoline in America!" Ladies and Gentlemen, the United States
pays less per gallon for gasoline than for bottled water. In May of 1996
(only data I found...anyone have more recent data?) for one gallone of
gas, Canada paid 130% what the U.S. did. Spain and the U.K. paid over
160%, Germany paid almost 300%, while France and Italy paid over 350% of
U.S. prices (from The Petroleum Communication Foundation, May, 1996).
Plain and simple, we pay less for gasoline here in the United States than
does most of the rest of the world. I would love for someone to tell me of
a country that pays less for their gas than we do. 

   "Millions of gallons in storage." Guess what folks, the West Coast
alone uses 1.4 million barrels of gasoline a day (from Petroleum
Intelligence Weekly, July 21, 1997). The entire United States used
121,614,000,000 gallons of gasoline in 1998 (from the U.S. Department of
Energy) which equals about 342 million gallons of gasoline a day or
approximately 6 million barrels a day [using statistics from Oil Market
Intelligence, this number is low, OMI numbers average out to 8.2 million
barrels a day]. Now then, the entire United States commercial gasoline
inventories average about 218 million barrels (from Oil Market
Intelligence, Vol. IV, No. 3, Mar. 99) which would last the U.S. about a
month if the supply was completely cut off. Those millions of barrels in
storage are called "inventory" which is what keeps us from running dry at
the pumps. 

>                 >>>>>> > Know what I found out?  If there was just
>                 >>>>>> > ONE day when no one purchased any
>                 >>>>>> > gasoline, prices would drop drastically.

   Ok, here's two simple questions. One, who found this out? Two, where
did they find it? I can't base this on fact, but I severely doubt that one
day's boycott would lead to lower prices...so that's my two bits on this

>                 >>>>>> > The so-called oil cartel has decided to
>                 >>>>>> > slow production by some 2 million barrels
>                 >>>>>> > per day to drive up the price.  I have decided
>                 >>>>>> > to see how many Americans we can get
>                 >>>>>> > to NOT BUY ANY GASOLINE on one
>                 >>>>>> > particular day!

   It's not just a "so-called", OPEC is a cartel. Limited production among
member nations is a tactic OPEC has used for years, this is nothing new.
Also, why limit this boycott to "how many Americans" instead of going
worldwide, which might have an effect? 

   Now here's the apparent theory in this entire idea: boycott gasoline
for one day in America which leads to the gasoline companies going to OPEC
and forcing them to lower their prices again, which OPEC then does, and
the gasoline companies then pass along those cost reductions back to us. 

   And if you think that will work, I feel sorry for you.

   First, OPEC sells oil to the world, not just America. Gasoline
companies are not the only oil purchasers in America. I doubt OPEC will
listen to just the gasoline companies in America to change what they've
already decided. The boycott won't directly affect OPEC, since they sell
to other industries and other companies as well. 

   Second, if the gasoline companies actually managed to convince OPEC to
remove their production reduction and therefore lower crude oil prices, do
you trust these same gasoline companies to actually pass along the savings
to us, the consumer? Sorry, I lost my faith in the "good nature" of large

>                 >>>>>> > Let's have a GAS OUT!  Do not buy any
>                 >>>>>> > gasoline on [date clipped -dave]!!!!!
>                 >>>>>> > Buy on Thursday before, or Saturday after.

   Ooh, even better. Remind people they can buy gas on Thursday or
Saturday, just not on Friday. Yep, those people at the gasoline companies
are so dense they won't notice that their weekly sales still average out
the same as always. Likewise, boycott on a Friday, for one day? The
companies won't notice much until Monday, by which time the boycott will
be over. Perhaps if the boycott was on Monday, you might scare some
companies, but not on Friday. Everyone will be home for the weekend. 

>                 >>>>>> > Do not buy any gasoline on
>                 >>>>>> > [date clipped -dave].
>                 >>>>>> > Wanna help?  Send this message to
>                 >>>>>> > everyone you know.  Ask them to do the same.
>                 >>>>>> > All we need is a few million to participate in
>                 >>>>>> > order to make a difference.

   Yep, all we need is a few million to make a difference. Just not the
one that this person suggests. Make a difference, take a day a week, and
don't drive. Take the bus, ride a bike, get a friend to pick you up, or
just stay home. Reduce your driving, cut back on the use of non-renewable
fuels while simultaneously reducing the polution you cause. Walk,
exercise, get out of your car. Do something good, not something like this
letter suggests. 

   And if you absolutely can't give up driving for a day every now and
then, or even if you can, try these tips: 

"Consumers can get more value from their gasoline dollar and also reduce
environmental impacts in several ways (and check

     - ensure vehicles are properly tuned and lubricated
     - maintain tire inflation
     - avoid sudden acceleration
     - obey speed limits
     - do not leave vehicle idling for long periods
     - choose the correct grade of gasoline for engine compression
     - compare fuel efficiency when buying vehicles
     - shop around for the best combination of price, quality and service

     Large, heavy vehicles with many accessories will use more fuel than
smaller, lighter vehicles with fewer accessories. Newer models of all
vehicles will use less fuel than older models."

				(from The Petroleum Communication Foundation)

   I would hate to think what might happen if we actually increased the
cost of gasoline in the United States. Perhaps we might drive less, and
therefore likely pollute our enviroment less. We might see more money
available to combat the damage we've already done. We might see
alternative, renewable fuels become financially viable options. We might
see some innovation in an industry that has started a downward trend in
fuel effiency (can we say, increasing SUV sales?). 

   I'll get off of my soapbox now, although I'd like to urge you, if you
agree with me, to send this email along to anyone who suggests you
participate in the Great "Gas Off". 

					Thanks for reading,
					David P. Thompson

Sources Referenced:

IJMC April 1999 Archives