Saturday, May 29, 2004

What your government can REALLY DO to help you!
By Lowering Gas Prices
Part2:Mid Term

I have had this in mind ever since I wrote Part1.

The latest news from Florida and Louisiana was a clear sign that this is the opportune moment.

According to the story, "Just before the heavy-driving Memorial Day weekend, more than 500 Shell and Texaco stations in the South have stopped selling gasoline because of high levels of sulfur that can ruin vehicle fuel gauges and make an empty tank appear full."

It goes on to state, "The tainted gasoline originated at the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Norco, La., according to Shell. Motiva is the refining arm of Shell in the East and South. Motiva supplied the gasoline to both Shell and Texaco."

"The company said it is investigating how the high sulfur levels occurred. Sulfur is naturally present in crude oil; some of it is supposed to be removed during refining."

"New low-sulfur standards for gasoline established by the Environmental Protection Agency went into effect at the beginning of 2004, but analysts said it is not clear whether this played any part in the problem."

I heard this news via my primary source, the radio. One O&G executive that was quoted stated that refineries in the US (and I assume this on to be no exception) are running at 96% capacity, and have been for years. The other 4% is the bare minimum of down-time for maintenance.

Now, I am an electronics man, not a petro-chemical engineer, but I this is very troubling. I have relatives that work in the industry. My Father-In-Law retired from a career building a trans-state pipeline that bi-sects the Great Plains. Refineries are big complex places. They deal with turning a moderately volatile fluid into a highly volatile fluid, with LOTS of by-products, many of whom are toxic.

This does NOT seem like the kind of situation that calls for minimal down-time for maintenance. Why then, you ask, are they running on the knife edge of safety?

Simple, we aren't building any new ones.

And low and behold, we have played the odds, and not even good odds at that, for years and now, the piper wants to be paid. Why should ANYONE be surprised?

Now, this will be a hey-day for the trial-lawyers. I can see it now. And there will be class-action suits, I should expect. And those call for DEEP pockets.

Sooooooo, if there are any young ambitious (like there are any who aren't) Doctors of Juris-prudence out there reading this, I have a suggestion.

Of course, you can't sue the EPA, as they are the Government.
But like any toady bureaucrats, they are prone to react to whomever is Yelling the LOUDEST.

And those people rake in MILLIONS in contributions every year from the faithful.

So why not go after the LUDDITES that got us here in the first place?

And in doing so, maybe a little sanity can prevail and we can actually BUILD SOME NEW REFINING CAPACITY!!

Never happen, but I can dream, can't I?


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