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Breaking News: Gas Prices Fuel Rebellion

The Washington Post blamed the headline: Prices Fuel a Rebellion

It seems that people are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore over high gas prices.. The situation got so bad, it sparked a rebellion... The full extent of which was summed up by the subhead:

Drivers Tired of Paying More for Premium Gasoline Switch to Regular

Oh my gosh, civil unrest at the gas pump as drivers pick up a different nozzle!

Prices Fuel a Rebellion
Drivers Tired of Paying More for Premium Gasoline Switch to Regular

For some people, it's hitting the big five-oh that really hurts -- that is, dropping $50 on a tank of gas. For others, it's just that relentless upward creep in prices that gets their attention.

Whatever the trigger, drivers pulling up to the pump in vehicles that ostensibly require high-grade gas are wondering if they really need the more expensive fuel or whether it's okay just to fill it up with regular. As gas prices soar, car owners increasingly are going for the cheaper stuff -- no matter how fancy their wheels. And station owners and oil companies are seeing the impact: Sales of premium and mid-grade gasoline are tumbling.

It's an age-old response, industry experts say,, for drivers to switch from pricey, higher-octane formulations of gas to cheaper alternatives whenever gasoline prices rise substantially.

It's a rebellion I tell ya.. A rebellion. Someone call out the National Guard to help keep the peace.


Comments (22)

O My Gosh! The market work... (Below threshold)
Michael:

O My Gosh! The market works! Prise is allocating scarce resources on the basis of marginal utility! Horrors!

Sorry, "Prise" should be "P... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Sorry, "Prise" should be "Price."

Give me low octane or give ... (Below threshold)
D. Carter:

Give me low octane or give me death!

Funny, considering my owner... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Funny, considering my owners manual on my vehcile actually CALLS for the using of regular unleaded.

Wow! I guess incentives ... (Below threshold)
Markus Barca:

Wow! I guess incentives really do matter.

There are idiots who buy pr... (Below threshold)

There are idiots who buy premium? What for their 72 Dodge Chargers? Folks, check the owner's manual. They build these automobiles to use 87 Octane
Fool. Money. Parted

Stop the pressses! People h... (Below threshold)
mcg:

Stop the pressses! People have stopped buying the gas company hype and stopped flushing excess money down the drain! This is front-page stuff!

It's impacting the oil indu... (Below threshold)
JBrickley:

It's impacting the oil industries pocketbooks and their bottom line, they make a hell of a profit on hi-grade premium gas sales.

The true cost at the pump:

1. Unique blends required by different parts of the country. i.e. multiple blends for southern and northern California, etc. This is expensive to produce and you can't just buy gas from anywhere, they need to have your local blend or it's illegal. Also include all those wonderful additives. That also costs money and the environmental impact may actually be negligible.

2. Local State and Federal Taxes contribute a whole lot to the cost of a gallon. Some states call it Sin Tax and it's on the gas, alcohol, and cigarettes.

3. We don't have enough refineries, we haven't been able to build one in 20 years! It's cheaper if we buy crude and refine it rather then have someone else refine it.

4. Venezuela oil exports and increased demands on middle eastern oil by the Chinese, etc. have driven the price up.

5. We need to freakin get that energy bill passed that will open up ANWAR drilling in Alaska! It will still take 20 years but if you think gas is expensive now wait till then! I've seen pictures of the real area intended for drilling, there is nothing there in the way of animals, trees, etc. It's iced over most of the year and it's right on the coast where going south, the Canadians have platforms all over the place. The greenies will show you pictures of forests and animals which while, technically part of ANWAR, it's hundreds of miles from where the oil is!

And when the gas companies ... (Below threshold)
tony:

And when the gas companies realize that everyone's buying regular, and regular winds up running $4 a gallon while the premium sits untouched, then when the regular runs out, the premium is sitting there with plenty of supply for what, eight, nine dollars a gallon?

"I can afford a car that I think needs premium gas, and runs at about 5 miles/gallon, but this is too damn expensive for my to buy anything but regular."

G.F.Y. assholes.

Next thing you know ... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


Next thing you know people will start buying smaller cars.

It's so bad up north I hear Kerry sold one of the family SUV's.


Open ANWR instead of insist... (Below threshold)
Daniel Lovejoy:

Open ANWR instead of insisting on alternative energy and eliminate our dependence on oil? You must either be republican or have stock in the oil company.

Electric, hydrogen cell, etc., all of these are vehicles that are currently on the road. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing oil companies either go under or become responsible.

Where do you propose... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


Where do you propose we get the energy to make the electicity or hydrogen cells?


One word, with three condit... (Below threshold)
Nicholas:

One word, with three conditional: Nuclear, if done correctly.

No emissions, no danger, very little waste. You need advanced reactor designs and/or fuel reprocessing. Unless/until fusion can be made practical, it's really the only reasonable option.

ok, ok, calm down!... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

ok, ok, calm down!

I had the good fortune of just missing the frogs' gas price revolt back in mid-2000 while traveling in Europe on a business trip (when they shut down trains and God-knows what else, because farmers and other wankers were screaming over the price of fuel). By comparison, this thing ain't even a tempest in a teapot.

That being said, you guys really need to calm down about premium fuels. The purpose of higher-octane fuels is that certain engines are optimized to run on them, especially in hot, humid weather. Case in point: several years ago, I owned a 1994 Mazda 929. The Owner's Manual for this car recommended the use of mid-grade fuel (89 octane). However, me, being a cheapie (like everyone else posting here, thinking that there was no reason at all, to buy anything but regular), I only used 87 octane regular gas.

No problem. Car ran like a kitten. And it was a damn, damn good car to drive.

Cue North Carolina summer heat, late June.

I stopped at the daycare to pick up my daughter one day, around 5pm. Temps around 93degF or so. And it had just rained, so the air was soupy-humid, and muggy as hell. So I killed the motor and went inside to get my daughter.

When I returned to the car and went to start it up...nothing.

Starting over and over, but no ignition.

Nothing.

Ladies, and Gentlemen, meet Mr. Vapor Lock.

I ended up having to wait over 30 mins until the engine cooled down enough to get it restarted.

When I got home, I didn't bother killing the motor; instead, I dropped wife and kid off at home, then ran to the nearest gas station, and bought a bottle of octane booster. Then I filled up with 89 octane fuel.

I learned my lesson. IF the owner's manual calls for a fuel grade other than regular, and you operate the vehicle in a hot, humid climate, using a grade of fuel lower than that which is recommended by the manufacturer is asking for trouble.

Octane is a measure of (among other things) the amount of vapor given off by the fuel, per specific volume. Your chemistry teacher will remind you that gasoline ignites only by vapor, not by liquid. The condition I described above, vapor lock, is when the engine doesn't have enough vapor in the gasoline/air mixture to ignite. At least, that's the non-chemistry professor, simple explanation.

And yes, oil companies love that extra money coming in from idjits who believe the marketing hype about the car "running better" on premium fuels. Truth is, though, the FCC clamped down on adverts like that years ago, and if you PAY ATTTENTION to the ad, you'll hear a tiny little disclaimer that goes like, "for engines that benefit from the use of higher octane fuels".

One more thing: the reason higher grade fuels cost more, is because more crude oil is required to make them, by volume, than lower octane fuels.

Wanderlust, good thoughtful... (Below threshold)

Wanderlust, good thoughtful comment. What is left over is used in power production and mostly shipping. Nuclear power is the best option for power plants, but even if we had to keep using fossil fuels, most power plants burning oil (even if its bunker C, or basically anything heavier than Diesel Fuel #6) are made so that the emissions qualities are higher than they've ever been. Engineering is so top notch now that (even if thermal efficiences aren't the greatest, they never are) those engines can actually meet enviornmental regulations.

In the meantime, hippies need to get over themselves and figure out that nuclear really isn't that bad of an option. When was the last time we had a nuclear accident? If we have to, we'll get ex-navy nukes running the show, they have the best record in the world when it comes to nuclear power plant safety.

Henry,Good comment... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Henry,

Good comments re nuclear power. A few more points of my own to add:

First, absolutely correct on the engineering issue of nuclear power plant accident rates (and prevention of same). For all the idjits fearing "another Chernobyl", they forget one important fact: the reactor building at Chernobyl does NOT have a reinforced containment building, of the type used in the USA and other Western countries, for civilian nuclear power (DOE sites at Savannah River and Hanford do not; but I won't go there). I will agree that there were likely several shortcuts made on power plant building specs, of a kind highlighted in the movie, "Silkwood", back in the '70's. But TMI in 1979 was a wake-up call, and fortunately, there was no "China Syndrome" there.

Since that time, as most are aware, policy wonks at DOE and elsewhere (in the US) decided to "regulate nuclear power out of existence" (my source for this statement was an acquaintance of mine in NC who, at the time, was an engineer working for Duke Power). So several plants were cancelled in the mid-1980's, and in some cases, plants were either stopped in mid-construction, or the plant was completed, but never commissioned.

Meanwhile, DOE has quietly been turning things around regarding the future of nuclear power in the US. Previously, every power plant was custom-designed, which meant that inspectors had to examine every inch of the facility to ensure that it was fit for purpose. Not so anymore. DOE has commissioned GE, Westinghouse, and others to submit standardized, modular nuclear power plant designs, for outputs up to 1500MW. Major improvements include standardization (meaning much less expensive to build and certify) and dependence on passive safety systems (so that another Chernobyl never need happen). Sites for this info include UIC - Advanced Nuclear Power Reactors and NEI - Advanced-Design Nuclear Power Plants.

Remember when the KYOTO conference kicked off in 1992, and all the greenies bemoaned how existing power generation and transport systems depended on power that somehow generated "greenhouse" gas emissions? Then, suddenly, silence. You could almost hear it whispered: "why not consider nuclear power?" and immediately, the same crowd fell over themselves because they couldn't condemn nuclear power quickly enough.

Second point: there is at least one alternative to conventional fission-based reactors, that is still (in theory, at least) more efficient than either fossil-fuel based power.

An engineering friend of mine recently gave me a copy of an article related to "accelerator-driven sub-critical reactors", that utilize either metal rods of a similar atomic weight to uranium, or spent uranium fuel rods. The critical point is that the reaction is not self-sustaining; it requires a cyclotron to engage and sustain. Info can be found at the Accelerator-driven Nuclear Energy page.

Finally, to your comment regarding Navy guys: a PWR reactor of a type used on Nimitz-class aircraft carriers generates approx 175MW. These units are standardized systems that have been operated for decades, and are not only very safe to operate, but also quite compact. So, if, for example, you are an agency that requires absolute redundant power systems, conceivably needed to operate for months to years where civil order has been disrupted, and you are a short distance from the Beltway (e.g., facilities located near Ft. Meade), the choice of having a standby nuke buried on your grounds would be a no-brainer. The same goes for Andrews AFB, and for underground facilities like Cheyenne Mountain (NORAD) & other underground facilities designed to be used by the President and other critical military and political personnel in times of war.

I wish I could buy 87 octan... (Below threshold)
Pete:

I wish I could buy 87 octane but I get a check engine light after 1 tank if I use anything less than 92 octane in my Vibe GT. At least I get 28-30 mpg out of it.

Wander... 175MW???? That's ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Wander... 175MW???? That's alotta watts

heh found a google link sai... (Below threshold)
Paul:

heh found a google link said 208 MW- Granted from 2 reactors but damn that's a lot of freaking watts.

Guess when they call those boats floating cities they mean it.

I never really thought about it.

I've heard from several fol... (Below threshold)
rylosam:

I've heard from several folks who say that due to the decrease in high octane sales, when you pay for 87, you're actually getting the good stuff. Also, my VW calls for 91 or better, but have read that this is complete bull. However, it may void warranty if they prove you've been putting in the cheap stuff...

Here's another thought:... (Below threshold)

Here's another thought:

From what I've noticed in Ohio the past 10 years, gas stations charge 10c more for plus, and 20c more for premium - always. So when gas was $1 for regular, it was $1.20 for premium - a 20% increase. However, when regular is $2.00, and premium is $2.20, it's only a 10% increase.

So, all in all, when the price of regular gasoline goes up, the better I feel about shelling out the extra $ for my premium-requiring engine! :)

I still won't put that 87 o... (Below threshold)

I still won't put that 87 octane filth in my car. But then, I get nearly 40 mpg.




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