Thursday, July 17, 2008

Arkansas makes the top 10 in a good way for a change

We've gotten used to sucking hind teat here in good old Arkansas, but our beloved state has made the top 10 list in a category that's actually worth mentioning.

While Arkansas has long been a leader in lousy categories -- teen pregnancies, methamphetamine production and other things in which we're none to proud -- we rarely place well in something that's brag-worthy. You know, the kind of thing that'll make a Razorback jump up, thump his chest and yell, "Hell, yeah!"

Ah, but we've got something now. Yes -- cheap gas.

According to Mike Right of the AAA, however, Arkansas is one of only 10 states in the country where a gallon of regular unleaded costs less than $4 a gallon. So, ha! Take that, Rest of the Nation!

Yes, the average price of a gallon of gas across the country was $4.114 per gallon as of July 17, and an informal poll of gas stations in Benton, Ark. (i.e., me paying attention to things on my way home for work) put the average in my neck of the woods at about $3.90. While that's not much to brag about, it is something and we'll take what we can get here in the Natural State.

Meanwhile, a member of the Arkansas congressional delegation is doing us proud. Senator Blanche Lincoln (one of the more level headed Democrats in Congress) came out in favor off offshore drilling today on Little Rock's KARN AM 920, FM 102.9. She mentioned that offshore drilling may well be feasible due to new technologies that will lesson the impact on the environment.

That's significant because Lincoln is part of a bipartisan group of 10 senators that is studying ways to lower fuel prices. Another Arkansas senator, Mark Pryor, is part of that group and he's been dropping hints that offshore drilling might be one of the issues under discussion.

Pryor has always been one of those senators to watch because he's very much a party boy who goes along with Democrats on the more controversial issues every single time. The fact that he's even willing to discuss an issue that has belonged to the Republicans as of late without bashing the idea completely could well mean that we're getting close to the point where we'll start tapping into our own resources.

Yes, that could mean both lower gas prices for everyone as well as something even more valuable -- less dependence of foreign oil until we can wean ourselves completely from the stuff.

Maybe we can all gloat about low gas prices one day.


Adam Pieniazek said...

Personally, I think cheap gas is a bad thing for the country and society as a whole. When you take into account the external societal costs that everyone must bear whether they drive or don't (pollution, environmental damage, traffic, global warming, increased heat in the city from all the asphalt and slow moving cars, etc.), the true cost of gas to society is way beyond $3-$4/ gallon.

If our government was pro-active and concerned with the public good we would have invested massively in greener technologies (solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric), which would save the country money and give our economy a nice push forward. Instead, we have a government run by oil barons stomping on our economy and shoving more cheap crack oil into our hands so that their pockets get filled while the average citizens gets f'ed.

If it was up to me, we'd tax gas heavily ($4-$5/gallon) and use that tax revenue to give citizens near full rebates on green technologies. Sure it's radical, but that's what our economy, society and environment need.

The Natural State Hawg said...

Ah, a clash in philosophies, I see!

I will agree with you that we should have invested massively in greener technologies starting in the late 1970s when we first realized just how vulnerable we were. However, the gas crisis ended, fuel stabilized at about $1 a gallon and no one cared about alternatives.

The one time we should have listened to Jimmy Carter was when he warned of the consequences of too much dependence on foreign oil. He was dead on there.

We should have also explored and tapped into our own resources so as to prevent the mess we're in now. That's not a permanent solution, of course, and the danger is this -- should fuel decrease to about $2 a gallon or so due to the expansion of the utilization of our own resources, will we wind up in the same mess (i.e., people stop caring about the future when gas gets cheap)?

I would submit, then, that a combination of more drilling and expanded investment in "green" technologies is the ticket to providing current and future relief.

Yes, it is preferable to get away from fossil fuels, but that's going to take some time. The danger, again, lies in taking care of the current problem so well that we don't look beyond it.

As for taxes, I'm all for depriving the feds of every buck possible. The government drains enough money out of the economy as it is and we see very little in the way of a return.

Besides, I'm not a fan of social engineering through taxation. Bad consequences tend to result.

Still, this type of debate is just the type of thing we need to be having on a national level right now. The chosen action, it seems, has been for society to simply do nothing when gas is cheap and panic when prices are high. If enough ideas are tossed around about how to approach energy production/consumption, I'm convinced we'll find a solution to the problem.

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lala said...

lol...let's not forget (at least back when I was a teen, growing up in Ft. Smith) pot was Arkansas's second largest cash

The Natural State Hawg said...


Error in the URL, but I figured it out!

The Natural State Hawg said...


Well, I'm sure pot is still up there. However, meth probably dominates the sleaze trade right now.