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By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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Will goopy straws and useless bags doom our efforts?

Uploaded: Jun 12, 2022
Many readers of this blog are concerned about plastic waste. I understand why. We walk past discarded water bottles at concerts and games; we find disposable cups overflowing street trash cans; we see plastic bags blowing along the sides of streets and creeks; and any visit to the beach turns up all manner of plastic junk in the sand. We have seen pictures of marine life entangled in our trash and starving from having swallowed too much plastic. Just last month researchers reported finding microplastics in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica, impacting life at the far end of the Earth. Our plastic problem is pervasive, persistent, and pernicious.

We are angry because plastic manufacturers have promoted a myth that plastics can be recycled, encouraging us to continuously buy their single-use disposables when in fact little is being recycled and much of it is damaging our environment. A recent article in The Atlantic, written by a former EPA regional administrator and a chemical engineer, asserts that “Plastic recycling doesn’t work and will never work”. They report that only 5% of post-consumer plastic waste was recycled in the US in 2021. Recycling is too complicated to sort properly (too many incompatible types of plastics), too expensive to process, and often limited in use due to toxin contamination.


Pictures from this morning's dog walk.

Our state knows this, though lawmakers have consistently failed to pass laws to rein in single-use plastics. And our cities know this, with many refusing to take the most difficult to recycle plastics (so-called rigid plastics #3-8). We are drowning in plastic that we don’t know what to do with, and we are surrounded by the visible and disturbing evidence of this.

So, I get why this bothers people. It bothers me too. And yet when people were celebrating Palo Alto’s ban of plastic straws, utensils, and produce bags a few years ago, I cringed. I had tried the compostable produce bags and they were terrible. When I stored my produce in them in the refrigerator, it quickly went bad and the resulting wasted food was its own problem. Nowadays I rarely bother to use them and instead take home loose produce that I store in old bread bags. (1) Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. Councilwoman Alison Cormack calls the bags a “disaster” and regrets her vote to replace them.

Similarly, I avoid using paper straws, or really any straws, though I never used them much to begin with. Reader Joseph E. Davis, who seems particularly attached to straws in his drinks, calls the paper versions a “goopy mess” and threatens: “Every time I'm forced to use a goopy mess of a paper straw, my willingness to be subjected to the arrogant micromanagement of climate activists diminishes yet further.”

And that is why I was cringing. In the grand scheme of problems we need to solve, I rank global warming well above plastic waste, given its ability to disrupt and endanger virtually all life around the planet. And while the plastic foodware ban is a start at changing our throwaway culture, do we want to cash out the goodwill that we might have on relatively small and ineffective efforts like this?

Reader BobB expressed a related concern about promoting “solutions” that are inconvenient: “In my opinion, this goes to the root of the problem of gathering support for effective environmental and climate measures. Convenient solutions are the best solutions. We should stop talking about plastic straws and instead talk about what is important and what works.”

I agree with this, but at the same time I worry that it can lead to inaction because convenience isn’t an absolute. We have seen that with mask wearing -- what some take to be a minor inconvenience others view as a big imposition. The same happens when people contemplate flying less, eating less beef, living in less space, or switching to LED lights. In aggregate these would be tremendously impactful changes. But a small change for some is a big hurdle for others. There is a laundry list of inconveniences that can apply in different cases. EVs have inadequate range. Native plants are ugly. Heat pump water heaters are noisy. Reusable cups are a pain to return. Water restrictions turn lawns brown. It costs 10% more. And yet a quickly warming planet with more fires, floods, heatwaves, rising seas, melting permafrost, and intense storms is also not convenient. So what does it mean to avoid the inconvenient?

Our approach has been to avoid mandating the imperfect and instead continue to nudge and persuade and gently suggest, which annoys a whole other set of people who dismiss it as “virtue signaling” because it lacks teeth. If we are lucky, we get price signals or incentives to help push things along. But it will never be the case that prices correctly reflect the externalities, or even that manufacturers are held fully responsible for the waste stream of their products. They have too much influence in our political system and prices are too complicated to set correctly. As just one example, look at how ineffective California’s cap-and-trade has proven to be.



It is true that trying to move too fast results in our moving too slowly because of the opposition that it engenders. But moving too slowly also ends up moving too slowly. What is the right speed that aggravates just the right number of people while moving things ahead as fast as possible?

In my opinion, we need to focus more on opt-outs, particularly for the big-impact items that we must implement to achieve our goals. The sustainable choice should be easy, the default, and other options can be available but less convenient and more expensive. That is how the California building code addresses electrification. You don’t have to fully electrify a new building but it’s a pain not to. We can apply that approach to other things. You want a water heater? The contractor will arrive with a choice of heat pump water heaters on the truck that can be installed that day. You want a heater that burns fossil fuel? Okay, but that will take another day or two to go back and get a waiver to install. What will it be? (2)

Starbucks would hand you a drink in a reusable cup, but you could request a throwaway cup (and it would be called a “throwaway cup”) and pay an extra $0.50 for it. You want a 400-amp panel so you can charge all of your cars at max speed at the same time while also running your dryer and microwave? Sure, but you will need to wait six months and help pay for a transformer upgrade. It would be trivial to lay out grocery stores, plant nurseries, car dealerships, and restaurant menus to encourage adoption of more sustainable options by making them easier to access, if only the owners were motivated.

This is why I’m not so aggravated about the straws and bags any more. Yes, we have bigger fish to fry and yes, these changes will aggravate some people. But they are pretty trivial to get used to or work around. These are not hills that anyone should be dying on. And if you are choosing to die on this hill, then best of luck with the other changes that are coming.

People are generally very adaptable. We should lean into that with opt-out policies, which are extremely effective. As one example, Peninsula Clean Energy offers a 100% renewable and carbon-free option that is $0.01/kWh more than the standard option. Portola Valley voted to make this the default and as a result over 93% of the homes in that town use this option. Neighboring Woodside did not vote to make this the default, and fewer than 3% of homes there use it. Since most people don’t seem to care all that much, we can facilitate their making a more sustainable choice. (3)

Palo Alto is taking this approach as it rolls out a smart meter program. Smart meters will help the city and its residents to better understand and save on electricity use while reducing hazards for meter readers. We are behind much of the rest of the world on these. The city is allowing customers to opt out, but those households will need to read and report on their own meter each month as well as pay a monthly fee for processing these manual reads.

I think we need to be taking this approach with more of our initiatives and be less apologetic about it. Sustainable policies with an inconvenient opt-out should be the rule until we can do even better. The question is, do politicians have the backbone to make this happen?

Notes and References
1. While our stores no longer offer plastic bags in the produce area, I was surprised the other day to find a cashier at Mollie Stone’s efficiently bagging my loose onions in a small white plastic bag from underneath the counter. Maybe there is some kind of underground resistance?

2. Until HPWHs are price-compatible with fossil fuel heaters, contractors answering these calls would need to be able to look up and offer substantial customer rebates to lower-income households.

3. You can find stats for other cities in the table that spans pages 4-5 of this report.

Current Climate Data (April/May 2022)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard

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Comments

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 7:29 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Plastic waste is a concern, but sometimes it makes sense. I would rather see an elderly lady with a plastic water bottle during this heat storm (it's been over 100 degrees out here) than see her with no water at all, and she could suffer a heat stroke. What doesn't make sense to one person, might be very convenient to someone else, and we all have to remember -- the world doesn't revolve around you.

My point? Relax your standards.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by SRB, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 8:06 am

SRB is a registered user.

Not sure I fully agree with 2 of your examples:

1. Electric Upgrades to remove need for fossil fuels are of great benefit to cities and the example you gave might be an outlier. Personally I think cities should waive all permitting fees for electric upgrades and expedite them; resume the fees when city reaches its carbon goals. Same with PV fees.

2. Peninsula Clean Energy and others CCAs are already based on opt-out. We all get enrolled by default and have to opt-out if not happy with them. Personally, I wish they had pricing lower and closer to their true costs (vs. mimicking PG&E price gouging because they can still claim to be 1% cheaper).


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 8:19 am

Bystander is a registered user.

What needs to be done is not always obvious.

On a day out yesterday, taking along our own refillable water containers seems easy, until you try to refill them. Can you go into a store to refill a water bottle without being a customer? Like finding a restaurant, you feel the need to buy something you don't really want just to refill your water bottle.

Driving an electric vehicle and recharging was easy, but these charging stations do not have any windshield washing facilities. Having to go to a gas station to buy something so you can use their windshield washer was a nuisance. We didn't need the snacks we had to buy to make us feel better.

Being able to refill water bottles and wash our windshield without having to buy something we didn't want is just as important as being able to find a restroom to use. Will the mindset of being able to do these things ever change?


 +   13 people like this
Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 10:53 am

MichaelB is a registered user.

"Will goopy straws and useless bags doom our efforts?"

No. What Joseph E. Davis said will: ".... the arrogant micromanagement of climate activists". The Biden Administration doesn't care that middle/working class/fixed income people struggling are paying $5 per gallon (or more) for gasoline. They have restricted oil/gas production, they say it is part of a "transition process", and that these same people should go buy an electric car or winterize their homes.

Climate activists ignore economics, the need for energy to run the nation, and that we are still living in a free society with limited government powers under the Constitution. People don't want to be lectured about what to do, when to do it, what they need, etc. to satisfy international bureaucrats and out of touch politicians.

The United States already has reduced emissions because of the increased usage of natural gas to replace coal. Not good enough for climate activists. Now we need to get rid of natural gas that we have ample supplies of (in New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas) and is a more reliable energy source than wind/solar.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Long-time Pleasanton, a resident of Amador Valley High School,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Long-time Pleasanton is a registered user.


"Sustainable policies with an inconvenient opt-out should be the rule until we can do even better."

Thank you for your well-researched posting. I agree entirely.

It's a matter of economics. The use of plastics does not charge consumers the true cost -- direct as well as indirect. Indirect costs are passed along in the degradation of the environment and contamination of humans and wild-life. As long as consumers are complicit in this scheme, it will continue.

If educated and given a choice though, many consumers would gladly cooperate. However, making the choice the pay the full cost needs the support not only of government but also industry.

Many remember a time when the plastics of today did not exist in stores, groceries/supermarkets. Food products were far less processed. Meat was wrapped in paper and shoppers used cloth and brown paper bags. Reusable egg/produce cartons and glass pair bottles were returned to the producer. The packaging cost was added to the price of goods. However intense price point competition in the consumer goods industry over the last half century led to the use of cheaper single-use plastic. And the availability of plastic packaging itself enabled an explosion of goods, previously not even feasible, e.g. frozen foods, health/beauty products. Consumers are willing to allow manufacturers to pass on the Indirect costs in order for convenience and diversity of products. Even a few years ago, during the advent of consumer awareness, shoppers could purchase reusable net produce bags. These though have mostly disappeared from stores. Consumers stopped buying?

Let's face it, industry uses plastic packaging because it has the least direct cost, allowing greater competition, it facilitates the diversity of products, and it's widely accepted by consumers who are willing to allow indirect cost to be passed to succeeding generations.

My 2 cents.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Westbrook, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 4:31 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

I think it would help me and maybe others if we knew which plastics are most damaging to the environment and we could focus on those first and foremost.

Cups, bottles, grocery bags, produce bags, straws, etc.

Anyone know?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Eddie, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 7:06 pm

Eddie is a registered user.

Goopy cardboard straws are important for one main reason - changing one's mindset. Up until a few years ago, I always used the straw that came with my drink at a restaurant. Why? Because the server gave it to me, so I used it - even though I haven't used a straw at home in over half a century. So when they started serving cardboard straws, I stopped using straws at restaurants - and my ice tea tastes just fine. It's the same with bags, cups, utensils, ... Humans survived for thousands of years without plastic forks (I think we'll be OK without them). Perhaps I'm naive, but I believe if people learn to live without plastic forks... then they'll eventually learn to live without gas stoves, non-EV cars... It's all about mindset.

Sherry - I agree that compostable bags are awful. So why not use reusable mesh produce bags? Someone mentioned that they are no longer available in stores - Piazzas in Palo Alto sells them, but I would recommend buying transparent ones (e.g. from Amazon), so that the cashier can see what's inside without having to open the bag.

You also say:
"But it will never be the case that prices correctly reflect the externalities, or even that manufacturers are held fully responsible for the waste stream of their products. They have too much influence in our political system and prices are too complicated to set correctly."
That seems like quite a pessimistic statement coming from what I view as a generally optimistic blog. It will take time but I believe that we will eventually have a carbon-fee-and-dividend plan such as:
Web Link


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jun 12, 2022 at 11:36 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

In looking at my own use of plastics, I can't see anything that significantly harms the environment. The plastics are pretty much inert before, during, and after use, and I dispose of them in the appropriate waste streams. If that stream then ends up in a US landfill, the environment should be fine - AFAIK the plastics should not appreciably degrade there and produce methane or leachate.

It seems that current issues with plastics have to do with improper use - for example, littering or poorly-considered decisions to ship them to organizations without transparency or oversight.

Shouldn't we try to get people to behave better rather than remove access to plastics? More public garbage cans and adequate frequency of emptying them would help, as would public shaming, fining or worse of litterbugs and those people who seem to be dumping truckloads of trash on the sides of our roads. My understanding is that the poster-gyres of trash in the oceans come from dumping by less-developed countries - we could eliminate our contribution simply by refusing to ship to destinations without easily verifiable proper disposal procedures.

As far as being "angry because plastic manufacturers have promoted a myth that plastics can be recycled, encouraging us to continuously buy their single-use disposables when in fact little is being recycled", I'm not. I don't expect plastic to be recycled and am happy with it going into US landfills, so any myth seems irrelevant to me. Let's create solutions rather than anger.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 13, 2022 at 8:37 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Printer Toner Cartridges:

Toner cartridge manufacturing is a $4.5 billion year business. Only 25 percent of them are recycled, refilled, reused. The 25 percent recycled cartridges are a $1 billion year business.

More than 350 million toner cartridges go into landfill every year, where it takes one thousand years to degrade. Seventy percent of those landfill cartridges are in US landfills. In addition to the plastic toner cartridges, the toner compound is composed of ground plastics and metals.

Toner cartridges manufacturing is growing at twelve percent year. One toner cartridge releases 4.8 kg carbon dioxide. Every ton of toner manufactured produces sixteen metric tons of greenhouse gases.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jun 13, 2022 at 2:44 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Based on their history of being the leaders in virtue signalling, Palo Alto needs to ban toner cartridges


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jun 14, 2022 at 10:59 am

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

Thank you for mentioning my comment. I don't use straws that often, but I'm relieved when I get a plastic one. It means there's still an area of life where logic and reason haven't succumbed to the baseless panic over plastic straws.

Climate activists must be very pleased indeed that gasoline prices are approaching $7/gallon in these parts. They will find that voters are not nearly so pleased and will punish the Democrats severely when given the chance.

This is the general conundrum for the climate activists as you point out. An approach based on taking things away, making life difficult and more expensive, is not politically viable as it breeds resentment, even hatred.

To be successful, climate activists must use a strategy of abundance rather than one of impoverishment. That would mean, for example, greatly expanded use of nuclear power to provide cheap electricity.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by TimR, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 14, 2022 at 4:07 pm

TimR is a registered user.

As much as I loathe the plastic straw ban, it did raise my awareness of our use of plastic a little more. Because right after the ban took effect in PA, I stopped at Peets on Homer for some iced tea, and then my paper straw and I headed to Whole Foods for some grocery shopping. We stopped right inside the door, and beheld the wall of plastic containers that greeted us. I'd never really noticed before how much food is sold in plastic containers. It's a LOT. And it did seem like a huge problem. A problem that's infinitely larger than little plastic straws.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

It's just not that hard. Reusable mesh produce bags are available in every grocery store I shop in--Piazza's, Safeway, Trader Joe's I wash and reuse them.

My family switched to an electric induction stove 10 years ago--It is better, more responsive, than gas. Many professional chefs are converting to it. I can see why. Induction electric cooks better than gas.

People habitually put up resistance to change, but we cannot do that now.
Change is coming. Fast. We have been making bad choices for too long, and the accumulative effects of that are escalating rapidly now. Less resistance...and more collective action is what we (and our children) need.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Walter Sobchak, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Walter Sobchak is a registered user.

Always provocative content, Sherry!

Here's a serious question I hope you'll answer:
are you dancing for joy over the high gas prices?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Ben J., a resident of Birdland,
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:56 pm

Ben J. is a registered user.

Love the passion of the degrowth, redistribution of wealth activists. Yet there they are espousing the the virtue of electric stoves (hmm where does that power come from?) vs gas stoves (cleaner burning energy), proudly claiming to travel all over town to different 'box' chains, all the while using plastic made computers or plastic made cell phones to type away their virtue signaling. EV vehicles CANNOT be made with out plastics or other materials that climate activists want abolished, at all costs. Again, it's about believing in the degrowth movement and redistribution of wealth. They've corralled the youth and are coming for the ignorant, uneducated adults.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:33 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

All, thanks for taking the time to read and to weigh in with a comment. I appreciate the variety of viewpoints. A couple of thoughts on a few things:

@Westbrook asks which plastics are most damaging. From what I read, plastic #2 (HDPE) is the most inert and easiest to recycle. It’s the opaque stiff plastic that is used for laundry detergent, shampoo bottles, etc. Plastic #1 recycles okay too (i.e., there is a decent market). Short of that, it drops off quickly. It is very hard to find reliable markets for plastics #3-#8, and even with #1 and #2 only a small fraction is recycled. When it is recycled, it may be to materials that cannot be further recycled (e.g., pet toys). So even those are no picnic. There is some more information here.

@Mondoman asks whether we wouldn’t be better off landfilling plastics if we can’t find reliable markets, and focusing on getting people to put their trash properly in trash bins. Well, most plastic does go to landfill, and I would agree that Palo Alto’s should as well if we can’t find good markets. Residents would be unhappy but it would be the right thing to do. I should do a post at some point on landfill capacity and location though. Regarding getting people to dispose of trash properly, I am all ears for ideas but I can’t say I’m optimistic.

Speaking of optimism, @Eddie was disappointed that I was not optimistic about prices accounting for externalities. He is confident that at some point we’ll have a carbon fee and dividend. FWIW, that wouldn’t surprise me either. Canada has one already. I’m just saying it will be sufficiently watered down and filled with loopholes that it won’t do enough. The price of carbon in Canada, and in California (cap and trade), is around $30/ton. On the east coast (RGGI) it’s more like $15. It should be priced at $100+ according to most estimates I’ve seen in order to limit warming to 2 degrees. Will we get there, and how soon? (The government does use a separate social cost of carbon for its policy making, and that value is currently around $50. A re-evaluation has been in progress for a very long time, which makes me think it’s politically very difficult to increase.)

@Joseph and @Walter suspect that “climate activists” are happy about the high prices of gasoline. No one I know is happy. The oil and gas companies are making a fortune and the impact is terrible and inequitable. This represents a huge lost opportunity imo to raise the prices much more modestly and give all of those proceeds back to people to help them electrify and save money.

@MichaelB says that people don’t want to be lectured about what to do. Amen to that. I’d add also that people don’t want to lecture.

@MichaelB says that gas is cleaner than coal and that gas is more reliable than renewables. These are not crazy things to say, but. When you include the impact of methane leaks, it’s not entirely clear that gas is lower emission than coal. But it’s probably not worth arguing about. He also says that gas is more reliable than renewables. I’d agree with that, though it’s not as reliable as people think (see e.g., the awful problems in Texas over the winter). More to the point, though, what gas is very reliable at is warming the planet. If we want to stop the warming and its impacts, we have to stop burning gas unless we capture those emissions (which includes burying that CO2, keeping it there in perpetuity, and paying for all of that).

@Ben says that EVs cannot be made without plastic. Probably true, at least for a while. But then he implies that this is a contradiction because climate activists want plastics “abolished, at all costs”. Not true and not a helpful characterization. I get that it can be fun and energizing to demonize people, but it’s also not constructive. @Ben, what makes you think that gas burning stoves are cleaner than electric stoves in California? Do you have a reference? I’m actually curious. It could depend on when they are used, for example. See this old post on gas heat, but it didn’t cover stoves, which have different efficiency properties. My larger point is I ask people to stay away from confrontational rhetoric in these comments and to stay fact-based. I hope you will give that a shot.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jun 16, 2022 at 5:58 pm

Eeyore (formerly StarSpring) is a registered user.

@MichaelB "They have restricted oil/gas production, they say it is part of a "transition process", and that these same people should go buy an electric car or winterize their homes".

As far as I know, this is not true. Cite? Biden is trying to get refiners to increase production that was curtailed due to the pandemic.

Those compostable bags are sooo horrible. It wasn't long before I ordered 350 old style plastic veggie bags from Amazon (and made in China to boot)

Sherry, you are so right about opt-out. Organ donation, for example, should always be opt-out.

Voting should also be opt-out. If you don't want to vote, pay a fine.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Walter Sobchak, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 16, 2022 at 6:29 pm

Walter Sobchak is a registered user.

Sherry: thanks for answering my question about whether climate change activists are happy with high gas prices: “No one I know is happy. The oil and gas companies are making a fortune and the impact is terrible and inequitable."

I see you are following Elizabeth Warren's position that inflation is caused by greedy corporations wanting to increase their profit margins. This seems to be the White House's talking point this week as well with respect to the energy companies.

During a 2020 Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden flatly stated that he “would allow no more drilling on federal land, no more offsite drilling, and no more drilling period." Biden further went on to say that he wanted “to put the fossil fuel companies out of business by 2030."

Many of the Biden Administration's energy policies have followed this tone. As a result, the energy companies have cut back on their own investments in such things as refining capability.

For the past 18 months, this administration seems to be making many economic and energy pronouncements purely for political reasons, and without thinking what the real world consequences will be. This is why Biden has an overall 36% approval rating " and only 30% approval rating for his management of the economy.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 16, 2022 at 6:42 pm

MichaelB is a registered user.

"@MichaelB "They have restricted oil/gas production, they say it is part of a "transition process", and that these same people should go buy an electric car or winterize their homes".As far as I know, this is not true. Cite? Biden is trying to get refiners to increase production that was curtailed due to the pandemic. "


Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center,
on Jun 17, 2022 at 6:44 am

Neal is a registered user.

We are a nation of litterbugs. Litter laws should be strictly enforced. Instead of fining perps $1000 they should be force to pick up litter along our freeways for a week.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jun 17, 2022 at 7:27 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@MichaelB: That piece doesn't have much substance in it that I can see, does it? Thanks for linking to it though.

The price of gasoline is high in large part because the global price of oil has gone from $70/barrel a year ago to around $120, with big factors being the war in Ukraine and the pandemic impacting demand and then supply. The pandemic also caused capacity problems at refineries.

Even if more oil/gas leases were issued today, it would take 10 years to develop them and so would do nothing to help with prices. And it would commit us to decades' more fossil. Instead, Biden is asking US suppliers to produce more on their existing wells, which they don't seem to be excited about. I guess they are content with their record profits ($35 billion in Q1 2022, highest in ten years).

Besides encouraging domestic producers to do more, Biden has been releasing an unprecedented amount of oil from our reserves and is working with Saudi Arabia to encourage them to ramp up production.

It's not easy to balance the need for lower prices with the need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. And it's even harder to win a popularity contest while doing so. Much easier to just call global warming an act of God and let the chips fall. I hope we don't live in that world.

I personally think Biden is doing a decent job trying to address this. This article has some good information about the efforts he is making and all the parties that remain unhappy.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Walter Sobchak, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 18, 2022 at 7:15 am

Walter Sobchak is a registered user.

[Post edited due to mis-attributed statements]

Sherry: “I personally think Biden is doing a decent job trying to address this."

Very few Americans are thinking: “Biden is doing a decent job."

When people are having a challenging time feeding their families and making ends meet, they start giving less of a damn about the “polar bear."


 +   3 people like this
Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 18, 2022 at 8:13 am

MichaelB is a registered user.

"I personally think Biden is doing a decent job trying to address this. This article has some good information about the efforts he is making and all the parties that remain unhappy."

I don't. The nation needs an available/low-cost energy source to run and for national security reasons, and he is cutting off current reliable sources without an adequate replacement strategy just to appease the far-left wing of his party.

The "Putin price hike" explanation doesn't explain energy price increases since Biden took over. He looks silly begging nations like Venezuela for oil when we could produce it here and with fewer emissions. We could have been getting more oil from Alberta/Alaska if he didn't cancel pipeline projects/leases. Domestic suppliers know that Biden wants to run them out of business so why would they listen to him or invest for the future? If the market price of oil were to decline and his poll numbers improve, he'll be back with more restrictions.

Climate activists and their political allies simply do not care about the disruptive nature of their policies. You can't tell middle class/fixed income people to "buy an electric car" or someone who needs to drive their kids to school/go to work/etc. to "use less" fuel. They simply want more government control over people. Some of us like living in a free society.


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