Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 11, 2019
We’ve warned before (see here, here and here) that the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use put consumers at risk. And that the administration’s recent decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is an ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the RFS that will only serve to make things worse. Now, we can add another report to the long list of evidence that the RFS needs to be sunset – this time coming from the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).The GAO recently reviewed the effects of the RFS and found that requiring the use of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline supplies hasn’t lowered pump prices or significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions – two of the main goals of the flawed RFS program. In fact, the review finds that gas prices outside of the corn-rich Midwest likely increased because of the program. To make matters worse, the review also found that there has been little, if any, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – a main selling point used by proponents to justify the program.
Posted May 1, 2019
With summer driving season almost here, nationwide average gasoline prices were $2.88 per gallon as of April 30, according to the American Automobile Association, identical to what they were one year ago when adjusted for price inflation. This good news for consumers is due, at least in part, to record-breaking domestic oil production, which has put downward pressure on global prices for crude oil, the main factor in determining prices as the fuel pump.
While the current price may be the same when you pull up to pump, some notable things have changed behind the scenes.
Posted July 6, 2018
Earlier this week we looked at the summer variation in gasoline prices, due mainly to increased driving as well as fuel specifications that have added to the cost of gasoline. As the 2018 summer driving season approaches its midpoint, let’s check the data on gasoline prices and, separately, take a deeper look at why prices in any one state have tended to be higher (or lower) than the national average.
According to the American Automobile Association, the nationwide average price for regular gasoline was $2.85 per gallon on June 28, a decrease of 12 cents per gallon since May 28.
Remember, gasoline and diesel fuel prices tend to track the price of crude oil, because crude oil currently makes up more than half of the cost to make the fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that crude oil made up 56 percent of the price of gasoline in May, the agency’s most recent analysis.
Posted July 2, 2018
In previous posts (see here and here), we’ve discussed factors that have affected gasoline prices in the past. The cost of crude oil is chief among them, accounting for more than 50 percent of the fuel price. Some other factors are seasonal, and taxes imposed on each gallon of gasoline vary from state to state.
Posted June 14, 2018
With Wall Street Journal headlines such as “Trans-Atlantic Oil-Price Spread Soars as Supply Glut Disappears,” it might be hard to remember that the United States’ domestic oil production stood at a record 10.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) in April, and the nation’s petroleum trade balance is in its best position in 50 years. This has reinforced U.S. energy security, lowered the trade deficit and boosted economic growth.
That said, given our country’s much improved energy outlook, some may question why we’re still importing crude oil and refined products. And, while we’re still importing oil, why do we export domestic crude – especially when prices have risen at the pump? Why don’t we just keep American oil at home? ...
Answers are found in an understanding of basic market realities.
Posted May 31, 2018
In a recently released report, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development digs into the factors that have made the U.S. energy dominance possible, and – specifically – the role of natural gas in energy dominance.
Posted May 24, 2018
Let’s add some needed perspective in the ongoing discussion of U.S. gasoline prices – even as Washington politicians try to exploit them for their own agendas. The latest political play: Senate Democrats want the president to cajole other nations into producing more oil to increase supply in hopes of moderating things at the pump.
Certainly, increasing global crude supply is important, because in the past doing so has put downward pressure on the cost of crude, the No. 1 factor driving gasoline prices.But, since we’ve seen how much lower and less volatile prices have been the past four years, thanks to the growth of U.S. oil production, wouldn’t it be smarter to encourage greater oil production here at home? Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski
Posted May 22, 2018
Washington is known for partisan political skirmishing, so it’s not surprising that a group of Senate Democrats is trying to score political points against this year’s tax reform legislation by suggesting that lowering the corporate income tax rate has been linked to the recent rise in gasoline prices.
Let’s straighten them out on a couple of important things about gasoline prices, which have nothing to do with tax reform.
First, per-barrel costs for crude oil – the No. 1 factor in the cost of producing gasoline and diesel – have risen due to a tighter global oil supply/demand balance and lower inventories compared to last year. Second, with a strong economy, U.S. petroleum demand has run at its highest levels since 2007 and was up by more than 750,000 barrels per day in April, compared with one year ago. Next, as they do every year around Memorial Day, the start of the summer driving season, Americans are traveling more, which could raise demand further. Finally, although gasoline prices have increased recently, they’re still lower than where they were four years ago, largely because of increased domestic oil production.
Posted May 10, 2018
The facts that crude oil prices are up 9 percent since the end of March and that crude oil currently accounts for 57 percent of the consumer’s price for gasolinemean that consumers have felt the impact at the pump of relatively large and sudden changes. As domestic crude oil prices recently increased above $70 per barrel for the first time since November 2014, let’s revisit current oil market fundamentals and other factors that have elevated prices.
By understanding the drivers of prices, American consumers may be more aware of how U.S. policy outcomes – such as more domestic natural gas and oil production, a strong U.S. dollar, low price inflation, avoidance of tariffs, quotas and other protectionist measures that undermine free trade, and peaceful international relations – could help put downward pressure on crude prices that ultimately benefits consumers.
Posted April 2, 2018
The summer driving season is arriving, so it’s a good time to take stock of recent market dynamics that have raised per-barrel costs for crude oil and consequently gasoline and diesel fuel.Nationwide, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that average prices currently are $2.64 per gallon for gasoline (up from $2.54 a month ago) and $2.95 per gallon for diesel fuel (unchanged from last month). While there is nothing particularly special about these figures from an economic perspective, consumers take notice when fuel prices are on the rise. Let’s look at the factors that have affected pump prices in recent years.