Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why I Love To Blog, Reason #45,398 -- July 23, 2015

Readers and I noticed this quite some time ago, that diesel was cheaper than gasoline, something not seen in quite some time. I first noted that phenomenon on my cross-country trips in states like California. Since it was an anomaly in California, I assumed it had to do with the relative degree of economic activity. At the time diesel was first less expensive than gasoline occurred sooner in California than other states I was driving through, (Texas to California; and, Texas to North Dakota), but now it appears to be a nationwide phenomenon:

Today's EIA "energy cookie:"
On July 13, the U.S. average diesel fuel retail price fell below the average regular gasoline retail price for the first time since the week of August 10, 2009.
From August 2009 through June of this year, retail diesel fuel sold at an average premium of 34 cents per gallon over regular grade gasoline, with the difference reaching more than 90 cents/gal in January.
Tight diesel markets over the past six years have reflected growing diesel demand from developing economies and the switchover to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) for home heating oil in northeastern states, where more than 80% of U.S. use of oil for space heating occurs. Over the same period, gasoline demand has generally been weak, reflecting increasing vehicle fuel economy and changing consumer driving patterns. --- EIA
I'm having a bit of trouble understanding EIA's rationale for the switch: growing diesel demand (and now the price of diesel is lower than gasoline) and gasoline demand has generally been weak (and that's why gasoline is priced higher?). Doesn't make sense. I must be mis-reading the explanation which is not unusual for me.

However, that comment about "gasoline demand has generally been weak," must be in the eye of the beholder. Judge for yourself, the data is at this source:

Maybe I'm biased (yes, I know I'm biased) but the flat line from 2009 to 2015 is still higher than every year except for a three- or four-year period in the early 2000's. I have trouble calling gasoline demand "weak" in the US. [Especially in light of the increasingly higher CAFE standards; the increased interest in electric vehicles; the increased ridership on bullet trains --okay, I'm joking about bullet trains.]

When I read statements like that ("gasoline demand is weak") coming from the EIA, I am reminded of what someone told me the other day:
"Bruce, remember the EIA is an agency of the US Department of Energy. It should be above politics, but remember, it reports to a cabinet official who sits at the table when policy decisions affecting energy are being made. And "strong gasoline demand" does not fit the administration's story."
That was paraphrased.

There is some conspiracy thinking out there that the administration manipulated oil prices down to $50 to force Iran to come to the bargaining table. I find that ludicrous, but there are some smart people who actually believe that. Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, when we get back to $150 oil, someone will blame it on speculators.

Something To Hide

There's only one way to interpret this story:  HHS Rejects Planned Parenthood FOIA Request Because It’s ‘Not Newsworthy’.

Current and past directors of HHS and their staff have been complicit in illegal practices involved in the selling of baby parts by Planned Parenthood. One begins to wonder if over the years there was some big money from pharmaceutical companies supporting Planned Parenthood operations.

Does anyone remember The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? It would be interesting if Rebecca Skloot would be willing to write the Planned Parenthood and cancer research story? 

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