Gas Cap Merits: A Lot Of Hot Air

Larry Price
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Wednesday - November 23, 2005
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One of the advantages of being a part of the media industry is that you can sit back and compare one person’s propaganda to other propagandists. Their zealous propagation of particular doctrines is admirable, but far-fetched.

Understand, I mean no disrespect. But the propagation of merits of our wholesale gas cap is getting a little hard to swallow. The last time I wrote about how long the gas cap idea has been around I was barraged with angry e-mails advising me to mind my own business and don’t write about things I’m not smart enough to understand.

OK, so I’m not so smart, but I’m a trained investigator and have good observation skills - good enough to know when opponents and advocates of a wholesale gas cap are stretching the truth.

For example, the office of Rep. Marcus Oshiro, majority leader of the state House of Representatives, said in a press release last week, “One has only to look at the price trend of diesel fuel to know that the fair gas price law is doing its job in protecting consumers.”

He went on to say, “The price of diesel fuel is not regulated under the price cap. It skyrocketed during Hurricane Katrina and has not come back down in Hawaii. Businesses that rely on diesel are suffering. Thanks to the price cap, the cost of gasoline tracks Mainland prices and consumers have benefited from six weeks of falling gas prices.”

I was not aware that the gas cap law on wholesale prices was known as the “fair” gas price law. The simple reason is a lot of people don’t consider it “fair.”

Some of the people who don’t think it is fair are members of Rep. Oshiro’s own party. The only Big Island lawmaker who opposed Hawaii’s gas cap was promptly voted out of office last November. Mark Jerrigan may be having the last laugh as motorists are railing against the law.

So what are the other law-makers who voted for the wholesale gas cap saying? Rep. Bob Herkes, D-Puna, Ka’u, Kona, says now, “I don’t support keeping it in its current form.”

Herkes added, “I would support suspending the law for a year to provide time to review it, and favor increasing competition in the fuel marketplace, temporarily repealing the state’s fuel and examining oil company profit levels.”

Sen. Russell Kokubun, D-Hilo, Puna, Ka’u, said, “Time is needed to establish a track record and to analyze the law’s impacts on price volatility and Hawaii’s drivers.”

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Hilo, Hamakua, S. Kohala, voted against the original bill in 2002 because she felt it would hurt gas station owners by capping both wholesale and retail prices. She also opposed a revised version in 2004, but voted for the bill with reservations. “I’m still not sure if the cap is going to work. In most cases I’m not comfortable with what transpired.”

Rep. Dwight Takamine, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala opined, “I believe it’s a mixed bag at this time.”

All of these remarks were made in West Hawaii Today (Oct. 24) and were not reported in the Honolulu dailies.

What’s left is the illusion that everyone in the Democratic Party agrees with the wholesale gas cap. The probable truth is the public is outraged, but confused as to what is really going on. And no one seems to consider the problems the wholesale gas cap is causing on the Neighbor Islands.

It is pure propaganda for anyone to say at this point that the wholesale gas cap is fair and somehow partially responsible for the decline in gas prices on the Mainland. It is probably more accurate to say the wholesale gas cap has forced motorists to buy their gas on different days, from different dealers.

Saying anything else after six weeks is pure propaganda.

While it is true I’m not an authority on the petroleum industry, I can smell propaganda from a mile away, and it always smells the same way. Rotten.

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