Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Don’t blame government or industry for high gas prices

Many are blaming the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the government for high gasoline prices, alleged refinery shortages, and the twice-a-year gas-grade switch.

The gas-grade switch does contribute to higher summer prices, but the change is caused by the seasonal need for a change in vapor pressure. In winter, gas needs to be more volatile in order to start in cold weather, so it contains more low-cost volatile butane. In summer, we “back out” the butane. Otherwise, the fuel could build pressure in fuel tanks and gas cans, and it would boil off lighter components in open containers. Removing the cheap butane reduces the amount of gas and raises its cost.

Other new regulations are adding to gas cost by cutting the allowance of polluting sulfur in gasoline, adding to refinery expense.

There is no refinery shortage. Upgrades and expansions of existing refineries have added about 2 million barrels per day to U.S. refining capacity in recent years, equaling several new refineries.

I suggest the last thing we need is lower gas prices, more driving, and more traffic jams. Cheap gas discourages use of energy-efficient public transport and increases pollution. The average personal car adds 5 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually, along with other pollutants.

Let’s not blame the oil industry, government, or anyone else. Just look directly into your car’s rear view mirror.

MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor. 

The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/12/2013 - 04:06 pm.

    Gas Pricing

    Consumers in Minnesota didn’t start driving 20% more last month when gas prices jumped from $3.59 to $4.29–and in some cases higher. The reported reason is that refineries that supply the Chicago area shut down for maintenance and our gas was shipped there. Yet prices in Chicago remained flat or even fell during the same time period.

    To further add to the confusion, gas prices in Wisconsin, which is between Minnesota and Chicago, were cheaper than Minnesota even though they have a higher gas tax. Taxes in Minnesota are 46.5¢ per gallon and 51.3¢ per gallon in Wisconsin. You would think that if they were shipping our gas off to Chicago that it would have some impact on the nearby environs in Wisconsin too.

    Quite frankly, the whole thing does not pass the sniff test.

  2. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/13/2013 - 03:58 am.

    No gas shortage

    Most of MInnesota’s gas, diesel, MSP fuel, etc comes from the big refinery at Pine Bend which processes Canadian heavy oil from the Alberta oil sands. All Minnesota stations have been adequately supplied. I haven’t heard of one with an “out of gas” sign because “our oil” has been shipped to Chicago.

  3. Submitted by Claude Ashe on 06/17/2013 - 11:50 am.

    Why is the little guy always blamed?

    “…Let’s not blame the oil industry, government, or anyone else. Just look directly into your car’s rear view mirror.”

    Getting a little tired of this “go-to” response in environmental discussions which is basically that the little guy is being too greedy, too wasteful, too neglectful, too selfish, yada, yada, yada…. Meanwhile corporate America is apparently too big to be blamed.

    I’m a social worker, which means that I need a car to do my job, (which pays me social worker wages, BTW.) My one surviving relative lives up north in a town not easy reached by bus or train. I work near the construction industry — they too need cars to do their job and I live near many cab drivers, who make their money driving.

    But according to Rolf Westgard’s holier-than-thou / one-size-fits-all assessment of the situation, I really need to seriously consider changing my ways because it’s obvious that “I’m part of the problem.”

    My carbon footprint is going to be pretty microscopic because I CAN’T AFFORD to leave a bigger impression in this life, Mr. Westgard. Can you ease off on the guilt trip a little? Maybe focus your sanctimony on those who are REALLY causing the problems?

Leave a Reply