Sunday, January 20, 2008

High Oil Costs Trickle Down the Pipeline

American Public Radio Food Costs OilThe Marketplace show on American Public Radio has an informative report this weekend concerning the continuing impact of high oil costs on the struggling American economy.

We all know how $100 crude oil impacts all of us at the gas pumps each week with higher gasoline prices. But Marketplace Money reporter Lisa Napoli looked at the less obvious ways the high cost of energy squeezes consumers.
"A good chunk of the blame goes to high oil prices. This month they hit $100 a barrel for the first time and that means much more than just expensive gasoline at the pump."
Examining a health food warehouse operation, she learns that petroleum-based products are in anything that has to do with packaging and that costs have risen at least 25 percent. And the raw food ingredients which are trucked in from all over the country have increased 20 percent because the farmers have to pay more to run the machines.

She also noted that fuel surcharges are being slapped on everything from taxi rides to plane tickets to anything we get delivered. The result is that the increases in oil prices end up permeating the entire retail economy. But what does that mean to each of us as Americans?

Speaking with Severin Borenstein, an oil industry expert at the University of California, Berkeley, she discovers how this severely impacts all of us:
When the price is, say, $60 higher than we thought it was going to be, when it's up in the $90s instead of down in the $30s, that means the U.S. as a whole is paying an extra $1.2 billion a day for products. $1.2 billion translates to about $4 per person, per day. Almost $1,500 a year more we're spending. If you're scoring at home, that's $6,000 for a family of four.
Our fossil fuel-based economy has long demanded cheap energy to thrive. With oil costs strangling our economy, America will have to commit itself to energy independence, diversification, reduction and technology efficiency. And alternative renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol have an important role in that success.

You can listen to the full story online at High Oil Costs (mp3) or High Oil Costs (Real)

Source: American Public Radio - Marketplace

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