Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

RST: Gas prices as low as they'll ever get? State taxes on fuel

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 1, 2013 11:41 AM

What to look for on Radio Smart Talk Friday, August 2, 2013:

gas prices Aug 13 300 x 170.jpg

“The national gas pump price below $3 is probably a thing of the past.” That statement came from a Triple A official at a Senate hearing on fuel prices last week.  What conditions are in place that will keep prices above the three dollar mark?

The answers can range from inclement weather, economic recession or even political unrest in the areas in which oil is exported. But sometimes it’s merely an increase in crude oil prices due to planned and unplanned refinery outages. Are there solutions to the seemingly endless variation in fuel prices?

Meanwhile, a proposed transportation bill by Gov. Tom Corbett eliminates a maximum cap on a broad wholesale tax of motor fuels in order to increase revenue for transportation infrastructure. Pennsylvania may see better highways but motorists could pay more for gas at the pump.  Has it happened in other states?  

How do crude oil reserves look this summer?  Will the tanker car crash in Quebec result in how fuel is transported?

On Friday’s Radio Smart Talk, Greg Laskoski, analyst from, joins us to discuss the reasons behind the cost of fuel in the U.S., and the impact wholesale taxes have on the price of gas.


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  • TheRocksCrumble img 2013-08-02 08:20

    Regarding inflation adjusted price of gas:

  • watlyle img 2013-08-02 08:45

    Every time there is a oil industry guest on the program they attempt to pretend they don't know or don't understand regulatory issues such as summer blending requirements. These ozone guidelines are long established methods that mitigate the worst effects of the pollution generated by the use of this fossil fuel. If the industry wants to meet the higher standard year round they should partner with the EPA to come to that agreement rather than pretend there is no logic behind the standard.

    Why does the industry try to pretend that the cost of reasonable regulation is something they cannot understand. Its like the tobacco industry not understanding why they were finally regulated.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 08:59

    A listener writes:

    Please correct any of these points:

    Oil and refined oil products are the USA largest export.

    There are 2-3 thousand wells in the gulf alone,then off the pacific coast,Alaska,and of course the continental USA,Especialy the new tar sands in the Dakotas And Canada.

    If all or some of the above are true,where is it all going. Personaly I believe this country is wasteful,infrastructure that waste fuel, idling,drive thrus,grossly oversized and powered vehicles as everyday drivers,not to mention the reliance and taken for granted commuting. I believe there should be rationing,over use your rations,you'd gave to purchase more(let's say points)so as to buy more fuel. It would be ran by the federal level,since everything is electronic at the pump it could be done. Of course big money would kill off any attempt. The US us on track to over take the Saudis in oil production. We will be just like them lots of oil,And no clean water.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 09:00

    A listener writes:

    The price of oil is largely due to speculative prices,of course thanks to the marketized,hedge fund,rapid electronic trading that gas taken over. At one time it was supply and demand. If this is being read,please tell me when this pricing took place. I believe it was under Bush II.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 09:01

    A listener writes:

    Just wanted to comment on the railroad industry in regards to oil. As someone who has followed the railroad industry for several years, it seems to me that the reaction concering the recent train wreck is overdone. Railroads overall are very efficient and safe when it comes to moving bulk commodities.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 09:01

    A listener writes:

    Just wanted to comment on the railroad industry in regards to oil. As someone who has followed the railroad industry for several years, it seems to me that the reaction concering the recent train wreck is overdone. Railroads overall are very efficient and safe when it comes to moving bulk commodities.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 09:07

    Christopher emails:

    What up side is ethanol since its subsidized by taxes and ruins engines.? Also, its less mpg compared to straight petroleum.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-08-02 09:07

    Jerry in Schaefferstown writes:

    Smart Talk,

    You mentioned how gas stations raise their prices in anticipation of increases costs. I have sold millions of dollars of commodities in my career. Raising prices if your " replacement cost" is necessary, because in a down market you often to have to lower your prices if you replacement cost is going down. If your competitor receives the commodity at a lower price, you may have to lower you price on your existing inventory.

  • Scott LaMar img 2013-08-02 09:20

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. A conversation about gas prices and fuel that includes environmental practices, commodities, inflation, taxes, government regulations, and history is informative. Often, people just want to complain about how high the price of gas is but I appreciate the fact that our audience thinks about the big picture.

  • Kevin Stewart img 2013-08-02 10:00

    In response to Mr. Laskoski's remarks concerning summer bleands and air pollution, I would like to follow up to what I said on the air:

    - The science of atmospheric chemistry is well established that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute to the formation of ground level ozone smog.

    - The medical and epidemiological science has also established that this pollutant results in excess adverse health effects and economic costs in lost work and productivity as well as insurance and medical costs. Studies are also showing that ozone is responsible for some premature deaths.

    - Yes, both the reductions in emissions by using lower Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) fuel ("summer blends") and corresponding health benefits are reasonably quantifiable. Indeed, it is on this basis that regulations have been put in place. The cost-benefit analysis shows that the benefits to public health would far outweigh the added costs of the fuel.

    - Depending on the particular formulation, summer blends are estimated to reduce gasoline VOC emissions by 12% to 25%. Nevertheless, we understand that the reduction would be one of many steps that have been put in place to reduce VOC emissions and hence ozone smog and hence the resulting health effects, so it is not possible to view the improvements in air quality due to the use of summer blends in complete isolation from all of the other pollution control measures that have been simultaneously implemented. What we do see, quite clearly, is that air quality has significantly improved over the years as we've been doing these things.

    - In general, with the exception of the largest changes, decreasing emissions by any one measure, are not going to be separately observable even if they are part of the mix that does reduce air pollution. However, Mr. Laskoski noted that he didn't see a difference between summer and winter air quality in his area of Florida. If this is the case, then that would show that the measures ARE having positive effects, since if emissions had remained unchanged from season to season, one would expect to see higher ozone levels in the summer months. If he sees no difference from season to season, then that in itself is a sign the measures are working.

    Kevin M. Stewart
    Director of Environmental Health
    American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic

  • marann42 img 2013-08-02 10:02

    It was clear that Greg Laskoski from Gas was also representing the big oil companies in his presentation. His analogy in citing the US Post Office as an example of a dysfuntional government entity was totally misleading. As is well knowen it was the Republican Congress that enacted the rediculas law that caused the Post Offfice finacial problems-to bad Congress did not pass a simalar law relative to oil companies and other big businesses. Any bets on how this will would effect the oil companies/big bussinesss??

  • Marie Cuevas img 2013-10-18 01:33

    This is good news then. Not only do gas prices drop its prices but some consumer goods as well. Reports says that Consumer Price Index report was flat from the first quarter of the year. It is the most recent indicator that inflation is leveling off in the United States. This is a very positive development in consumer spending.

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