No quick fix for rising gas prices

Published 7:59 pm Monday, May 1, 2006

By Staff
The question is on everyone's lips these days: Have you found a place for cheap gas?
President Bush announced initiatives this week intended to help ease the pain at the pump. Among them: easing clean-air restrictions, temporarily; halting, temporarily, the flow oil to the government's stockpile - the strategic petroleum reserve; and investigating oil companies to see if they are colluding to raise gas prices.
The first two are stop-gap measures, at best. Meanwhile, oil companies have been investigated in the past and found not to be doing anything wrong. In our free-market economy, can we fault oil companies for trying to make a profit?
Higher gas prices are difficult for all of us, but especially for lower-income Americans. When simply driving to work or picking the kids up from school becomes somewhat of a sacrifice to your wallet, there's a problem.
But quick fixes aren't going to solve the problem - not even politically.
With so much unrest in the world affecting oil prices, there is little the average American can do.
But there are long-term solutions that we all need to consider, from oil companies to auto manufacturers and from citizens to politicians.
The simplest answer? Drive less. Easier said than done, but in our small community, for example, there are plenty of opportunities to walk that two blocks to a friend's house rather than drive.
But driving less is too easy an answer.
Federal leaders - and consumers - need to pressure automakers to make more fuel-efficient cars. And consumers need to pressure politicians to extend the tax credits they would receive if they buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle like a hybrid.
We also need more alternatives to oil, such as ethanol and electricity. But companies need incentives from the government to be able to pursue that kind of technology.
Rising gas prices are caused by complex factors - and the problem isn't going to be solved with easy answers or quick fixes.

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