Put blame for high gas prices where it belongs
CHARLES Memminger's attack on Sen. Ron Menor (Honolulu Lite, Feb. 16
) not only lacks humor, it is the kettle calling the pot black. Has Memminger read any documents on the pricing practices of the oil companies in Hawaii? Where was he when the Tesoro president stated that gas prices would have gone up "even without the gas cap law"? And where is he when the diesel fuel customer today is paying $3.50 per gallon on Maui because diesel is not regulated under the gas cap law? The rest of the country is paying less than $2.50 per gallon for diesel; so where is that "free market" economic system when you need it? Go get 'em Charley, $4 per gallon for diesel is just around the corner, and you can't blame Menor for this one. Gee, maybe the "free market" isn't working in Hawaii. But we already knew that, the oil companies admitted that to the federal judge in the state's antitrust case.
Where was Memminger's sympathy for the gas station dealers during the last 10 years? Dealers have been crying for help since 1996 as the oil companies have economically evicted dozens of owners of gas station/minimarts. The plight of the owners of gas stations is not because of the gas cap law; history prior to the gas cap law speaks for itself. There is no crystal ball in retail; even before the gas cap, stations ran out of gas, cigarettes, beer and ice.
Hawaii gas prices rose rapidly when California changed to reformulated gas in 1996, when Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf in 2004, when the Iraq war erupted and last August when the British Petroleum Refinery in Texas had a tragic explosion. Gas prices went up 30 cents last August without a gas cap law. Again, where was Sir Charley to the rescue to inform his readers on how the "free market economic system" is alive and well in Hawaii? Maybe all the record Tesoro profits Memminger speaks of came from the jet fuel, diesel fuel, fuel oil and the other UNREGULATED products that account for 80 percent of the Tesoro refinery revenues.
Memminger's column undermines a law that is helping consumers. Maybe he should direct his barbs at the oil companies who cried long and loud about how the gas cap law would force them out of business and create shortages and gas lines. If, as he states, "the oil companies LOVE this gas cap," why are they still trying to repeal the law?
Frank Young is a former Chevron dealer and former chairman of the Petroleum Advisory Council under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.