Gas prices, demand for alternatives up again

Though members of the state Legislature voted last week to suspend the controversial gas cap, that won’t stop prices at the pumps from increasing by around four cents a gallon this week, as early as today.

Republicans in the state Legislature, and Gov. Linda Lingle, are claiming victory over the law they consider onerous, and have committed themselves to moving forward on finding alternatives to fossil fuels.

Gas prices will approach $3.60 per gallon for regular across the island, continuing a steady increase in prices that is also being experienced on the Mainland.

With gasoline prices consistently on the rise, the debate heats up on a national level.

In Hawai‘i, prices will increase by four cents as early as today, which represents a marked reduction in the double-digit increases of the past three weeks.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a

nonprofit, non-partisan, public-policy group dedicated to free enterprise and limited government, is calling for President Bush to renew his push for increasing domestic energy production.

“The president should be building public support for pro-energy, pro-consumer policies,” CEI director of energy policy Myron Ebell said in a press release.

Ebell said Bush should lay the blame where it belongs, with legislators who have repeatedly blocked attempts to open access to oil reserves in Alaska and off the American coasts.

“He should be traveling across the country blaming the obstructionist minority in Congress that continues to block legislation that would increase domestic energy production,” Ebell said.

Opponents of the familiar Arctic National Wildlife Refuge debate counter that, even if ANWR was opened for production tomorrow, it would be months before the oil cleared the refineries and was ready for domestic consumption.

Ebell also called for a repeal of the federal ethanol mandate that was part of last year’s energy bill. Higher demand for ethanol, he said, is causing prices to soar. Furthermore, he demanded a repeal of the 54-cent-per-gallon tax on imported ethanol.

“It’s time for people to demand that their senators and congressmen start voting in favor of lower gas prices instead of just talking about them,” Ebell said.

Seeking refuge from escalating fuel costs, California’s state air-quality regulatory agency recently issued an executive order permitting the sale of a diesel engine, fuel-saving device to all off-road equipment in the state.

The California Air Resources Board partnered with Phoenix-based Emissions Technology to market a combustion-catalyst system which, proponents say, could lead to fuel savings between 8 percent and 20 percent.

The device is said to encourage a cleaner combustion, leading to higher engine efficiency and reduced emissions.

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