| What’s the real plan behind the Keystone XL pipeline?
Why build a 1,700-mile pipeline when close-by destinations are at hand? Aside from posing serious environmental danger, might there be a negative economic impact? And what are the politics – why are the Republicans suddenly pushing the pipeline so hard?
Here we go again
| Is Middle East unrest causing oil price spikes? Maybe not.
Reporters and editors, based on past experience, should examine the extent to which stock market speculators and the oll companies are pushing gas prices to the $4 mark. For guidance, here are some questions and leads from experts who wrote about the subject for Nieman Watchdog in the period 2005 to 2009, when oil and gas prices last shot through the roof.
It’s not just supply and demand
| Must we have $4 gas prices again? And if so, why?
Peter Ashton and Henry Banta say a new, costly speculative bubble—a repeat of last summer—is taking shape, and they suggest ways to reduce the risk. Isn’t this an important job, right now, for those in the Obama administration as they extensively rewrite the rules for financial markets?
In 1981, the U.S. had 324 refineries. In 2007, it had 149
| 10 tough questions on oil and gas prices
For starters, Joseph Davis asks: Why is Congress so passive on the lack of refining capacity? What about probes into price manipulation? The House passed a bill on price gouging; who’s holding it up in the Senate?
| Why gas is almost $4 a gallon and some ideas on what to do about it
Separating the real from wishful thinking on energy independence, short- and long-term oil price solutions, subsidies, speculation and government regulation.
The 2008 elections | Ask the candidates what they’d do about $3.50 or $4.00 gas prices
There's no law that prices at the pump must keep soaring, it only seems that way. Peter Ashton puts his finger on the reasons for the severe spikes (more than 100 percent since Bush became president), has ideas on how to combat them, and offers questions for reporters to put to candidates.
| Unregulated energy-market speculation is costing you money
It's much too easy for unscrupulous investors and energy companies to create and profit from huge price spikes – without anyone knowing. Henry Banta thinks the government should limit such temptations.
Crises are great for profits
| The method behind endless gasoline price spikes
COMMENTARY| June 15, 2007
The oil companies have consciously reduced inventories while demand has been steadily growing. The result, as Peter Ashton puts it, is that whenever a refinery hiccups or a pipeline ruptures, there’s a dramatic spike in gas prices.
Look for profit on investment, not sales
| Stymied in reporting on gas prices? Try these questions
Henry Banta: 'The shift of billions of dollars from average Americans to the shareholders and managers of oil companies is important news, as are the reasons behind it. This deserves far better coverage than it has gotten.'
$2.06 a gallon in Iowa
| The closer the election, the lower the price of gas
Gil Cranberg says this correlation should galvanize the press. He wants to know, among other things, whether prices are dropping in countries that don’t have upcoming elections.
An Enron effect
| Speculators – not supply and demand – are to blame for skyrocketing gas prices
A bipartisan Senate report, largely ignored by the media, says that there's no oil shortage and none is expected. Rather, it's massive, unregulated speculation that is costing consumers billions of dollars – and vastly enriching people like T. Boone Pickens.
Now you see 'em, now you don't
| For oil industry, profits are one big shell game
Firms make gains appear larger or smaller depending on who is asking; shareholders get one answer, tax collectors another. And authorities in one jurisdiction may get different answers from those in another.
An oil industry primer
| What, if anything, can bring down gas prices?
More domestic production seen as not making any difference; competition among refiners could make a difference—but not a big one.
Is there a solution?
| Q&A on Bush's energy proposals
Skyrocketing prices are seen, finally, as leading drivers to conserve some gas and reject SUVs. But no serious government action is expected until public outrage gets a good bit higher.
Money chasing money
| 14 questions to get to the bottom of the gas price run-up
Oil industry analyst Tom Kloza calls for better depth in reporting, casts doubt on gouging, and recommends some independent, reliable sources for reporters.
'Addicted to oil'
| What if there are no gains from reducing Mid-East oil imports?
Writers are skeptical that there would be any real benefits, doubt Bush’s motives and pose sharp questions for reporters to ask. What would work, they say, are higher gasoline taxes to restrain consumption.
Letter from Paris
| Elsewhere, surprise and shock at the ‘addicted to oil’ phrase
Bush astonished Europeans but his remarks in the State of the Union were widely seen as political and not indicative of any change in his administration’s energy policies. Here’s what some in the international press had to say.
A matter of emphasis
| Gas prices aren’t at a record high (yet) but health care costs are
Increases at the pump make news because they are dramatic but only medical care prices are advancing far beyond the level of inflation, and they are doing so month after month. [Editor's note, Sept. 1: No longer true; gas prices are now at record levels.]
| How the refiners are profiting from your pain
Are reduced gasoline inventories a sign of efficiency – or a clever way to gouge consumers? Two industry experts ask some tough questions.
Follow the money
| Taking a harder look at possible gasoline price-gouging
The research director of Public Citizen's Energy Program says the press is too quick to conclude that price increases are simply due to supply and demand. Reporters, he says, aren't asking the right questions.
| Where the pain is
For some people, stratospheric gas prices are the biggest news story of the year. Here are a few questions that ought to be answered.