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Energy crisis--where have I been?

September 1st, 2005 at 10:25 am

I got stuck on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 this morning, lots of interesting stuff about the economy and especially energy costs. One show that was especially interesting was a news conference by the Consumers Federation of America about how energy prices are affecting consumers; another one featured guys from the Petroleum Institute.

I guess I'd been aware that energy costs had been creeping up over the past few years, but I didn't think about it too much. Just adjust the budget, and go on with life. I didn't bother to look at how much of a jump it's been, from 2000 to now. I didn't realize that our refineries were already working at 95% capacity, so there wasn't any wiggle room built in for disasters like hurricanes. I didn't realize the industry was still recovering from Hurricane Ivan.

In other words, there's been an energy crisis going on from way before Hurricane Katrina, and I seem to have totally missed it.

If you want to see the figures, here's a link to a report from one of the guys who was on from the Consumers Federation: http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/0929%20price%20report.pdf

The graphs really show what's been going on, as far as the % of income people have been paying for energy, and how much it's gone up over the past few years.

The scary thing is, the Consumers Federation people this morning said because of the additional strain of the hurricane, households will have to pay about $600 more over the coming year, in gasoline costs. But gasoline represents only about 1/3 of the products we get out of petroleum. So if you also count increased costs for home heating, airplane fuel, plastics, etc. it will be costing each household about $1800 (3 x $600). Scary stuff, especially for low-income people (who according to those charts are already paying over 20% of their incomes on energy costs.)

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