You’ve probably already noticed a significant jump in cost for basically everything you enjoy buying both online and in the store. The pandemic drove costs high and the recent increase in gas prices shot them even higher. Most of our food and textiles travel around the US by truck. Trucks, like anything else, have to fill up at the pump and that cost is passed along to their respective companies. That increased cost in transporting their goods is then passed on to the consumer leading to consumer goods spiking in costs shortly after gasoline does. This cycle puts a huge burden on the average American as we just try to live. We are already paying thousands of dollars more now just to live the same lives as before covid due to the strain of the pandemic. Now we are dealing with the domino effect of two international players going to war.
The US has voted with its dollars in support of Ukraine by denying Russia its business while they continue to invade their neighbor. I think most Americans would see this as the right decision and agree with putting the pressure on Russia. Unfortunately, it would seem that our own oil companies also see it as an opportunity to push for more freedom as they supply the difference in our hour of need. The funny thing is, while Russia does supply Europe with nearly a third of its oil, the US gets less than 10% of its oil supply from the invading country. Even so, companies here have hiked up the prices in anticipation of the crude oil cost going up. They raised them before the invasion had even fully hit. Now they are skyhigh when compared to last year and they seem to be staying there even though the price of crude oil has stabilized. What is going on?
One pressure that we have to keep in mind is the constant desire of the large oil corporations in this country to operate without restraints. This is a horrifying concept on the grand scale as we are already facing serious consequences due to climate change and global warming. Extreme weather, fires that stretch for miles and eat up the land, historic amounts of drought, water reserves slowly draining away and our water-supply-providing ice shelves breaking off and melting away, just to name a few. Now, we know that car emissions and industrial by-products are two of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses and thus global warming. They are, in fact, the very areas we need to reduce and eliminate if we are to survive the next half century intact. That will not happen if oil companies are given free range. It isn’t their priority to preserve the environment as they’ve shown time and time again and they always leave a mess.
In an effort to sidestep this option, the EPA has announced that they are going to allow the use of E15 gasoline all year long. They are calling it an emergency action and it’s meant to ease the cost of gas for the consumer but there are some rather larger cons to this plan. First, E15 gasoline won’t really be that much cheaper. On average, it is supposed to be about 10 cents cheaper than E10. That’s not a very large savings when compared with the drastic rise gas prices have seen over the last three weeks. Second, E15 has a higher ethanol content which means a couple things for the environment. Ethanol burns up faster and will be introduced into the atmosphere more quickly than E10. This will cause an increase in smog which doesn’t just impact visibility but also increases the amount of crud we are introducing as greenhouse gasses. More gasses equal a faster rise in the earth's temperature. We’ve already seen the storms and catastrophes our temperature rise so far has caused. This is not the time to make it even worse. In addition to this big picture consequence, smog is horrible for the most vulnerable among us. Babies, asthmatics and the elderly, as well as anyone with a respiratory issue will struggle more as smog increases. Third, E15 is not for every vehicle and isn’t better for the longevity of most cars. We might simply be shifting the economic impact of this gasoline shortage by incurring a higher than average rash of vehicle maintenance and shortened vehicle lives. The change is supposed to help those who are struggling the most with the increase in gas prices but E15 may just cost them more to use in the end. This is especially true when a lot of older cars are not able to efficiently or effectively process it on top of E15’s lower overall efficiency. . Just one year ago, gas prices over $3 would have seemed ridiculously high but today we consider it a find if we discover the same amount of gas under $4. While most agree that this is a small price to pay to deny Russia our business while they invade Ukraine, E15 might not be the answer we are looking for.