The price of gasoline continues to tumble because of the lack of demand worldwide, bringing Bay Area prices below $2.30 a gallon.
The average price nationwide is now $1.87 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s down from $2.30 a month ago and almost a dollar below the year-ago level of $2.82.
A handful of stations in Oklahoma and Wisconsin were charging below 80 cents a gallon last week.
In the Bay Area, the cheapest prices are in the East Bay: $2.29 at some Costcos and independent stations in Concord, Oakland and Union City, according to GasBuddy. The South Bay’s lows are around $2.35, and the Peninsula’s about 5 cents more.
Farther afield, $2.19 has been seen in Sacramento and Modesto, and prices below $2 were noted near Oroville and Folsom. Across the line in Reno, you can find $1.85.
In Hawaii, which has the nation’s most expensive gas, $2.35 is available in Honolulu but Kauai stations are still charging $3.60.
Of course, few drivers can take advantage of cheap gas because of the shelter-in-place orders. Cheap crude will continue to pose a serious threat to U.S. oil companies, especially independent frackers that piled on too much debt. Rystad Energy recently estimated that 140 US oil producers could file for bankruptcy this year if oil stays at $20 a barrel, followed by another 400 in 2021.
Bernie Sanders Announces Plan to Strangle the Booming Fossil Fuel Industry in America
By Michael Hausam, November 5, 2015
The just-introduced “Keep It In the Ground Act,” co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders, would halt new oil and gas exploration on federal lands and offshore waters. It also would terminate any existing leases that aren’t currently producing.
The bill is also sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
In an announcement at the Capitol in D.C., Sanders said that the end result of the legislation would be to make sure that:
“over 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal on our federal lands and federal waters (would stay) underground forever.”
The motivation for the bill is to combat climate change. In Sanders’ statement at the rally, he took a shot at his Republican opponents, whom he characterized as deniers:
“But somehow — somehow! — when it comes to climate change there are massive attacks on scientists who tell us the truth about climate change. Worry less about your campaign contributions, worry more about your children and grandchildren. The debate is over.”
Of course, this bill only addresses the supply side of fossil fuels and does nothing about addressing the demand for oil and gas – other than via necessarily driving up the costs of gasoline, electricity, and others that depend on their availability.
Stopping the availability of using federal lands for fossil fuels is a key priority for the anti-fossil fuels movement.
With roughly half of the remaining unexploited fossil fuels in the U.S. being on those lands, according to Grist, the jobs and fuels from this battle will make a huge difference for groups warning about global warming, as well as people who care about cheap fuel for economic growth and prosperity.
California regulators restore emissions-cutting fuel rule
By Judy Lin, Sep. 25, 2015 5:49 PM EDT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California regulators on Friday restored ambitious rules to cut transportation fuel emissions 10 percent within 5 years, a decision that gives Gov. Jerry Brown a boost for his climate change agenda.
The rules further strengthen California’s toughest-in-the-nation carbon emissions standards, but oil producers warn the changes could drive up costs for consumers at the gas pump.
The changes are expected to add a few cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel in the state that already has some of the highest gas prices in the nation. The state estimates a typical commuter will pay an extra $20 to $24 in 2017, increasing to $52 to $56 in 2020.
“We are on a path to reduce our dependence on petroleum and this program is a key piece of that action,” Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said ahead of the vote.
Brown, a Democrat, has vowed to intensify his fight against climate change after the oil lobby helped kill a Democratic legislative proposal earlier this month to slash statewide petroleum use by half in 15 years. The board is the state’s top regulatory agency to enforce rules aimed at reducing air pollution.
Regulators voted 9-0 to re-adopt its low-carbon fuel standard, which requires producers to cut the carbon content of fuels 10 percent by 2020 to help the state meet its emission-reductions goals.
The program was initially adopted in 2009 but the reduction target has been frozen at 1 percent because of a court fight. Friday’s vote allows the state to resume its program; modifies rules in response to industry concerns about price spikes; and gives companies more credits for using renewable hydrogen and other investments to reduce pollutants.
Supporters say the program is worthwhile because it will encourage greater use of cleaner biofuels and electric vehicles, which can be cheaper to operate than those powered by gasoline or diesel.
“This puts it back on track,” Bill Magavern, policy director at Coalition for Clean Air, an environmental advocacy group, said after the vote. “We have other programs that address vehicle technologies and vehicle miles traveled, and this is the one that tells oil companies to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuels.”
Oil producers counter that the rules are unworkable and too costly. They said the standard will impact consumers as the companies try to comply with the mandate or face being shut out of the market.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents oil companies, said the low carbon fuel standard jeopardizes the state’s energy future and adds uncertainty.
“California motorists need to know what is coming and how these regulations will impact transportation fuels,” Reheis-Boyd said in a statement.
Unlike other rules the state has adopted requiring cleaner-burning fuel or more fuel-efficient vehicles, the standard, first proposed in a 2007 executive order from then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calls for counting all the pollution required to deliver gasoline, diesel or alternative fuels to in-state consumers — from drilling a new oil well or planting corn to delivering it to gas stations.
In addition to tailpipe emissions, it includes factors such as whether an ethanol factory uses coal or natural gas to power production or an oil rig uses diesel fuel to drill.
Regulators are targeting transportation fuels because California’s roughly 30 million vehicles account for about 40 percent of the state’s emissions — the largest source. The rest comes from generating electricity and industrial manufacturing, as well as commercial, residential and agricultural uses.
All fuels are measured against a baseline pollution standard. If a fuel falls above or below the baseline, it generates a credit or deficit that other producers can buy and sell to meet the target.
It’s up to fuel producers to figure out how to meet the goal, whether by changing production methods, using ethanol or electric vehicles for transportation or buying credits on the market.
After the rule’s initial adoption, out-of-state refiners and ethanol companies were among those who sued, arguing that transporting the fuels into California alone made them less competitive against in-state producers. They argued the law unconstitutionally limits interstate commerce.
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a 2013 appeals court decision upholding the fuel standard.
Opponents continue to challenge the state’s authority to regulate out-of-state production. Oil firms are also trying to block a similar standard enacted in Oregon, the only other state with a clean fuel standard.
Friday’s move to restore California’s program is not related to Volkswagen drawing international attention for violating separate federal and state rules that regulate emissions from vehicles.
NEXTGEN CLIMATE FOUNDER & PRESIDENT TOM STEYER CALLS FOR ANSWERS FROM BIG OIL ON GAS PRICE SPIKE IN CALIFORNIA
Steyer Says If Oil Company Executives Won’t Answer Questions They Should Face Subpoena
May 5, 2015 3:53 PM
SAN FRANCISCO—NextGen Climate Founder and President Tom Steyer today spoke at a Chevron gas station about the recent gas price spike in California and called on the State Senate to subpoena oil company executives if they refuse to provide answers to basic questions about their pricing and oil refining practices.
“As everyone knows, the oil companies have been charging Californians up to $1 billion per month more for gasoline than if we paid the national average,” Steyer said. “It’s time to put an end to the Big Oil giveaway, and start giving Californians a fair shake.”
Steyer also highlighted recent comments made by Chevron during its first quarter earnings call with investors last week. Chevron’s general manager of investor relations, Jeff Gustavson, noted that refining margins “increased earnings by $435 million driven by unplanned industry downtime and tight product supply on the U.S. West Coast.”
As Steyer noted, Chevron is saying for the oil industry, “their problems were good for their profits.” Steyer also highlighted the problem with the lack of transparency into the oil industry’s business practices, saying “we don’t have the facts we need in order to know if we’re paying fair prices based on the market, or if oil companies are deliberately taking actions which lower supplies and drive profits higher.”
Oil company executives had the opportunity to show up for a Senate hearing in March, to answer questions and allow Californians to judge whether they are being unfairly gouged at the pump. But industry executives refused to show up, instead sending a paid economist who then claimed he didn’t speak for the oil companies. If these executives continue refusing to answer for their business practices, the State Senate should subpoena these executives to force them to answer to Californians. Once Big Oil answers this call, we can begin to fix California’s rigged gasoline market and give Californians the fair shake they deserve.
NextGen Climate is focused on bringing climate change to the forefront of American politics. Founded by Tom Steyer in 2013, NextGen Climate acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans.