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Opinion

Skyrocketing oil prices won’t stop plummeting resources

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April 23, 2008

It’s not a big surprise, but Exxon Mobile has posted its largest ever earnings.

According to the most recent issue of Fortune magazine, Exxon Mobile made over $40 billion in profits. How couldn’t it? Gas in River Falls has spiked dramatically in the past few weeks.

Currently at a price of around $3.40 a gallon, gas is projected to reach at least $4 a gallon by the end of the summer. This presents a financial windfall for the oil companies. Profits will be huge, and there are new oil fields being discovered across the globe. Good news for oil executives, but is it good news for the rest of us?

Short term, the rising cost of oil is obviously bad. The price to fill up my car is now over $40. When I started school a few years ago, I could fill up for around $25. The cost of oil will mean that the vacation for fun will be more of an expense, especially during the busy summer travel period.

The expense for gas is more than a matter of a pain in your wallet; it will affect the price of most goods. The shipping price for procucts you buy will be increased. Many smaller transportation corporations will be especially crunched. Any increase in the cost of fuel will be immediately passed on to the consumer—a double pain for your already hurting wallet.

So, is there an upside to this? Well, the truth is, not in the short term. Long term there is hope. There will be an increasing push for more sustainable sources of energy. Initially, there will be a push for more fuel-efficient autos. Most car commercials will mention the financing deal you can get with a new car and then mention the fuel economy.

This is a by-product of the new oil crisis. Unfortunately, making your Honda more fuel efficient is only holding off the problem a little bit longer. Everyone knows you simply can’t make more oil.
There is some hope, however. Gas is a commodity that everyone needs to buy.

Regardless of the price, even if it’s $8 a gallon, people will suck up the pain and tears to fill up their hummers and pickup trucks.

It doesn’t need to be that way. The United States needs to follow the model of many other countries and promote public transportation. There needs to be an alternative to filling up your tank.

Public transportation provides a cheaper, earth-friendly choice for travel. An improvement in national public transportation would provide many needed jobs—jobs that couldn’t be outsourced to foreign countries.

The need for affordable, quality public transportation is not an urban issue. A national railway system, one more reliable and cheaper than Amtrak, would connect cities and communities and provide citizens with the ability to travel quickly between them. The seeds have been sewn on the east coast where rail has been a popular mode of transportation for many years.

Our campus has experimented with this in the past. A few years ago, the Student Senate supported busing for students to travel to the Cities and back on the weekend.

Unfortunately, the busing program was not used, and was canceled after only a few weeks of operation. Perhaps now that filling up a gas tank requires more student loans, a bus going to the Cities will be a more popular choice.

There a several ways Americans can use less oil. A free bus for students going to the Cities is one way to save some gas, some money and little bit of that ozone.

The short term consequences are a little bigger wallet and little less money for the oil companies. Luckily, with $40 billion they should be set for a little while.

Joe is a political science and international studies major, graduating this May.

Joe Eggers is a fifth year senior from Appleton, Wis. He is a political science and international studies major. He has been involved in several activities on campus, including a stint as last year's Student Senate president.