Diesel Transportation vs. The United States

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Diesel fuel’s cheaper to make than gasoline.  Yet in America, diesel fuel is even more expensive than the superior brand gasoline at the pump.  Why?


Basically, old style diesel engines for cars were loud and had an immediate power issue when picking up speed.  This meant diesel cars never caught on in the United States.  And though new technology has solved these issues, the public has been slow to catch on even though diesel cars get 40 to 45 miles to the gallon.


This lack of interest so far in diesel cars has meant that the fuel is still mainly used for trains, buses and big trucks.  The demand in these sectors for the fuel has not gone down as it involves people working for a living and they need diesel fuel for these vehicles. 


The demand for gasoline has gone down though which has brought the price of the fuel down relative to diesel.  This means that the public doesn’t see the evident advantage of diesel.


Another factor in the high cost of diesel is a 2004 EPA decision to put ridiculously strict sulfur emission levels for diesel fuel.  This has skyrocketed the cost of the commodity.


Now in Europe, 80 % of the vehicles run on diesel, and the fuel’s cheaper than gas, though the price is high by our standards still.  These prices are affordable for Europeans though because of an out of this world public transportation industry, so they can get by without cars.


The United States has a poor public transportation industry because years ago the automobile and tire industries colluded to destroy it.  They were even found guilty in court and fined… one dollar.  This means that the public needs cars, and with gas cheaper because of the low demand for it relative to diesel fuel, the price of diesel remains high in comparison.


Another problem with the cost of the fuel is the government in the United States is very easy to lock up and prevent from solving any problem.  With our republican form of government, small groups just need to tie up one branch of government which can also be controlled by different political parties at the same time.  With these checks and balances, unless there is a real emergency where the people are either mad or scared, bad policies, like the stupid EPA regulation I mentioned, can remain in effect for years.   


Therefore; though we have more oil than Saudi Arabia, we can’t drill for much of it.  We have also just closed five refineries on the East Coast with three more teetering.  They can’t make money with the environmental rules from the EPA.  When the elected government is tied up, the bureaucracies of the government will rule as someone has to and many times badly.


Europe doesn’t have the problem for a good fuel policy as their forms of governments are parliamentary.    If one party wins, they form all the elected government and they control the proposed laws that are formed and can then pass these laws.  


The disadvantage of the parliamentary form of government in modern times is that with no powerful chief executive independent of the legislature and no real checks and balance, the majority with the least can always vote for people who will take money from someone else who is in the minority with the most, and governments go bankrupt.  (Germany excepted because they have a parliament and federalism; whereby, there are checks and balances too.  I left out the EU also, the overriding super-structure because it isn’t democratic, everyone with power is appointed.  I don’t have the blog space to compare apples and oranges).


Still, when a good idea like a sound national energy policy that makes sense comes along, it can be passed.  Sound laws are also hard to repeal too (unless it involves not ripping off your rich neighbor) because in parliaments, governments can be tossed out in a day.


Next week, my blog, “If You Want Natural Gas as A National Transportation Fuel, Good Luck.”



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