Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Attitude change should remain as gas prices fall

July 31, 2008

In the past two weeks, the steady increase in gas prices has started to abate to the point that motorists have been treated to the welcome sight of actual lower pump prices.

For some time, experts have said supply and demand didn't fully explain the constant increases in crude oil prices that flowed down to pumps. It would be a comfort if the falling prices reflect a rational market-driven pricing structure and are not just a temporary respite.

The falling gas prices are welcome, but the higher gas prices did bring focus to the need for long-term energy policy solutions. Should declining prices stay with us, it is hoped they don't put an end a change in attitudes and creative thinking that accompanied the latest round of fuel price inflation. In far-reaching response, municipalities and county officials nationwide suddenly became interested in providing additional transit alternatives as the public increasingly made use of what was available. There was a realization among automobile manufacturers of the need to offer far more fuel-efficient vehicles or those powered by alternatives to the internal combustion engine. Again, that was a response the public's unwillingness to invest in the gas-thirsty behemoth so much in recent demand. Finally, there have been sudden calls for development alternative energy electrical power and renewed debate of expanding domestic oil production.

All these developments, although tenuous, should be welcome even as we cheer falling fuel prices. That the ideas started to surface suggests that we crossed a threshold somewhere between $3- and $4-a-gallon gasoline at which it was collectively understood changes had to occur. It was a threshold that encouraged something of a crisis response where creative thinking and new attitudes were embraced. Prices may drop below that threshold again, but it would be foolish to believe that would be anything but temporary and a mistake to turn away from a crisis like view that encourages innovation and development of long-term solutions.

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