Festivus for the best of us: Our top 10 grievances about fuel

The United States has been observing Festivus for 18 years now, and this antidote to holiday crassness is vital as ever. As Frank Costanza so aptly described one of its central pillars (in “The Strike,” the episode of “Seinfeld” that originally aired on Dec. 18, 1997):

“The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. I got a lotta problems with you people! Now you’re gonna hear about ’em!”

So without further ado, here are Fuel Freedom’s top 10 grievances about transportation fuels. Hopefully these will tide you over until your unadorned aluminum Festivus pole is up, just in time for the Feats of Strength.

  1. Dealers are afraid of Tesla. In this land where the free market supposedly reigns supreme, car dealers in many states have succeeded in excluding Tesla’s direct-to-consumer sales model. But some 20 states have allowed Tesla to sell, so there could be momentum for change.
  2. The obsession over the price of oil. Every host on business cable news is fixated on the day-to-day rise and fall (mostly fall this year) of crude. Where will it go in 2016? It’s all pointless busywork, the forecasting. As long as oil has a monopoly on vehicle fuels, we can’t be surprised when oil spikes without reason.
  3. The price of gasoline in California. Not that the rest of the country cries crocodile tears for the Golden State, but one of our people just paid $3.20 in the L.A. area. The national average is $2.009. Experts blame (all together now) “refinery issues,” even as those refineries reap record profits.
  4. The “ethanol takes food out of starving babies’ mouths” myth. We hear this every day: Using corn to produce ethanol for fuel drives up the cost of food, especially corn. If that were so, since the U.S. produces more ethanol than ever, corn should be forever surging upward. It was $8.22 a bushel in 2012. It’s $3.74 now.
  5. Honda discontinued the CNG Civic. Sure, CNG stations are expensive to put in and the adoption rate among the public is very low. But 17 years wasn’t long enough to give it a chance. Especially with renewable methane (from poop!) just now coming into its own.
  6. Transportation got no love in Paris. Kudos to the international negotiators who brokered what is, on paper, a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Now we just need to address vehicle emissions, which account for more than one-fifth of GHG.
  7. The motorcycle guys’ war on E15. The American Motorcycle Association has had it in for E15 ethanol blend for some time, even though their precious bikes aren’t approved for the fuel anyway. Why limit choice for us four-wheelers?
  8. The pointless flaring of natural gas. Gas is so cheap right now that when oil drillers bring it up, they burn it up instead of using it. Sure, the flames look cool. But this isn’t a Mad Max movie. Divert some of it for use as a feedstock for ethanol!
  9. Persistent range anxiety. Critics of alt-fuel vehicles, who will never be mollified, complain that they can’t go on a 500-mile road trip in an electric car. Batteries are packing more miles, and charging stations are proliferating. Don’t let quest for perfection be the enemy of progress.
  10. SB 350: a good bill with an asterisk. The climate-change bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brown had a component that would have called for a 50-percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030, but it was pulled after intense lobbying and ad spending by oil interests. Here’s hoping the issue gets revived in the new year.