Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2001

Letter: Stop the blame game

May 24, 2001

Being a political junkie, I try to keep up on what's going on in our country.

This week, most of the shows' topics were related to the current gas crisis that has been affecting us all. The shows had their typical guests of elected representatives from both sides who this week pretended to be experts in the oil industry. The guests from the Democratic side all echoed the same line of blaming "Big oil" and of course now the President for the current problems.

Blaming the President seemed a little dishonest since we had the same problem last summer wile Clinton was in office. The Republican guests all echoed pretty much the same theme of more drilling and more supply.

Only one show really seemed to get to the heart of the gas problem. They did a strange thing, which would seem to be common sense. They got an actual expert in the oil industry to be their guest. The true oil expert stated that our oil problems come down to one major thingover-regulation.

That 10 years ago we had six different types of gas being processed at our refineries, not counting the blend changes that are made seasonally. But now, they have to refine 95 different blends of gasoline. Different cities, regions all have been given certain gas blends that have been mandated in the last six to eight years by the EPA and the Department of Energy. He said these mandates have become a refining nightmare. They do not have storage capacity for 95 different blends of gas, so they end up producing a certain blend for a number of days, then they have to stop and change the refining process for another blend of gas and then go through the whole start and stop process again. Even though the refineries are now at over 90 percent efficiency, the new blend changes take more time to produce and cause significant down time between the changes. The stop and start refining process costs more money per gallon to produce not to mention the increased cost of trying to ship or truck all the different blends to the different areas of the country.

His solution was simplereduce the blends of gas down to about 24 different types. He said this could be done without compromising any clean air standards because there just wasn't that much difference between the mandated blends. By making this change, they could refine 7 to 10 percent more gas at an estimated savings of about 14 to 19 cents per gallon. This does not even take into consideration the savings in transportation costs that would also reduce the costs at the pump. This simple solution would seem to reduce our costs we pay while increasing the supply and solving or current gas problem.

While I'm sure the EPA and the Department of Energy had good intentions, they have over-regulated us into a gas crisis. What happens, so often it seems, is that laws and mandates are made without ever considering the costs.

Hopefully, our representatives from both sides will stop blaming each other for the problem and look at the solution that is out there.

Keith Turnbaugh


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