As Congress and now the Supreme Court stymie the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change, one thing the president doesn’t want – sky high gas prices – actually is nibbling away at emissions of heat-trapping gas.
Gas prices in much of the United States shot past the $5 a gallon mark last month before a slight drop, and Americans have responded by driving a bit less, two sets of data show. June gas sales are about 5% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels and 2.6% below a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Americans in April, the last month data was available, drove 6% fewer miles than the same month in 2019, according to transportation analyst Michael Sivak, a former University of Michigan professor who is a long-time tracker of driving and car-buying habits. That 6% drop is tiny compared to the 40% plunge in driving miles in April 2020 as the pandemic kicked in.
Yet, a 6% drop in driving roughly translates to only a 1% drop in overall U.S. carbon emissions, Sivak said. The U.S. climate goal is to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
“High fuel prices are a really difficult thing because they’re a double-edged sword,” said Samantha Gross, director of the energy security and climate initiative at the centrist Brookings Institution. “So prices that are high and expected to stay that way have more of a longer term ability to cut demand and my guess is the administration wouldn’t mind seeing that, but the problem is that people hate it.”
High gas prices are “unequivocally” good for fighting climate change because people use less fossil fuel and emissions go down, but the poorest people, who don’t have other options also “suffer the most,” said climate economist Solomon Hsiang, director of the Climate Impact Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. Carbon emissions are causing harm, especially to future generations, but for decades cheap gas has meant “no one is paying for that harm,” he said.
Now people are paying more when they hit the gas station and some are changing their habits.
Richard Gowan, 56, of Brighton, Michigan, used to commute 26 miles to his Ann Arbor workplace twice per week in a 2021 Ford F-150 pickup. But with gas close to $5 per gallon, he’s cut one-quarter of the truck trips. “That one doesn’t come out of the driveway near as much as it used to,” he said while pumping gas near work.
To save money, he has subbed a small Jeep Renegade SUV, which gets substantially better fuel economy than the 24 miles per gallon he gets with the pickup, which he bought to tow a travel trailer. The towing still takes place because he doesn’t want to give up family vacations, Gowan said.
He blamed the high gasoline prices on President Joe Biden’s policies. He wants Biden to open up more drilling and predicts that engineering will eventually solve climate change.
In San Diego, where gasoline runs more than $6 per gallon, Simmi Paul said her family also has reduced driving. Her daughter, a college student, now walks 10 minutes to work and takes public transportation to school rather than driving.
Even though the July 4th holiday weekend saw record number of people on the road, they were not driving as far “because they can’t afford the cost of gas,” said American Automobile Association spokesperson Devin Gladden. People who must drive, he said, “are trying to find ways they can combine some of their errands or perhaps if they are able to carpool for work they’re finding ways to reduce the amount of gas they have to buy and put in their vehicles.”
Biden has frequently said he doesn’t want high gas prices, attacked oil companies ’ multi-billion dollar profits, proposed new offshore oil and gas drilling despite campaign promises and proposed a gas tax holiday, which congressional leaders said won’t fly. Asked whether conservation should play a greater role in adjusting to high prices, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “Americans are going to do what they feel is right for themselves and for their family. That’s not something for us to make a judgment on.”
Biden confidants know high gas prices hurt people and the president politically.
“The fact is there’s been a lot of studies on this — it’s just psychologically that how people tend to view the economy is through inflation,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster who has worked for Biden. “People tend to focus on the pain points.”
Look at the pump for the pain point.
It’s about $200 a week for Pat Blevins, 42, a carpenter from Waterville, Ohio, who was filling the tank of his 2016 Chevrolet Silverado at a gas station west of Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday. “It likes to eat gas,” he said of his truck, which he said gets around 15 miles per gallon.
When gasoline went past $4 per gallon in the summer of 2008, American auto buyers quickly switched away from pickup trucks and large SUVs to smaller, more efficient vehicles. But when it hit that level again in early March, there was little impact on new-vehicle sales in the U.S., where about three-quarters of vehicles sold are SUVs and trucks.
“Even at $5 per gallon, it’s hard to find evidence of changing habits” and buying smaller gas-efficient cars, said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for the LMC Automotive consulting firm.
It’s partly because of the global computer chip shortage. Automakers have been sending the chips they get to factories that build larger, more profitable vehicles, Schuster said.
Still, if smaller cars and SUVs were more readily available, Schuster says he is confident that people would buy them.
Blevins said he will look at the new electric Silverado to replace his gasoline model “if it’s worth the expense and if it can perform like a gas (truck) can.”
Sivak thinks $5 a gallon gasoline is for the moment the price that changes Americans’ car habits, still much lower than the price paid in Europe and much of the rest of the world.
“When you talk about the real outcomes of the energy transition (to less carbon pollution) some of this does mean that things will get more expensive and we need to come up with better solutions on how we finance and ensure that everybody can participate in the energy transition and it’s not just for the wealthy or privileged few,” AAA’s Gladden said.
Some economists, such as Hsiang, have called for a carbon tax of 25 cents to 50 cents a gallon above market price “to address the harm from climate change” and reduce carbon pollution by cutting demand, but with proceeds partly returned to people and partly used for green energy projects. But at the same time, he said, “higher gas prices hurt poorer families more,” so the government should send them financial help but not subsidize cheap gas.
Biden’s proposed gas tax holiday “is a subsidy, it’s paying people to pollute,” Hsiang said.
Brookings’ Gross said Republicans are falsely blaming Biden for the gas shortage because he cancelled a pipeline that has little to do with gas prices. She said the worldwide spike in gas prices is mostly due to pent-up post pandemic demand and supply issues and the Ukrainian war.
“I really feel for Biden because he’s in this situation where he wants to do climate stuff and his base is like ‘yeah we want climate stuff’ and he ran on it and he feels strongly about it personally I think,” Gross said. “But he’s in this situation where he’s getting hammered on high gas prices.”
Borenstein reported from Washington, Krisher from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Josh Boak and Matthew Daly contributed from Washington.
Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears
Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
If you know of local business openings or closings, please notify us here.
PREVIOUS OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS
· Air Products and Chemicals Inc.’s chosen warehouse developer, Prologis Inc., will have to wait until July 13 for a final decision by Upper Macungie Township’s zoning hearing board on 2.61 million square feet of warehouses.
· Chubby’s of Southside Easton has added Krispy Krunchy Chicken to its offerings and name.
· Curaleaf Holdings Inc., which operates in the U.S. and Europe, will open a medical-marijuana dispensary at 1801 Airport Road, Hanover Township.
· Habitat for Humanity, which has “ReStores” that sell new and lightly used furniture, has leased 30,000 square feet at the South Mall.
· Nat Hyman’s bid to convert an old warehouse at 938 Washington St. in Allentown into 48 apartments did not win zoning hearing board approval this week after neighbors said more housing would make an on-street parking shortage worse.
· Members 1st Federal Credit Union opened a new branch this week at 5605 Hamilton Blvd, Trexlertown. It’s one of five planned for the Lehigh Valley.
· A Turkish restaurant has relocated from one downtown to another, taking its fresh ingredients and cozy atmosphere from Nazareth to 200 Main St., Tatamy.
· The Tennessee Titans have chosen Allentown-based Shift4 Payments to handle payments at Nissan Stadium.
· Wells Fargo Bank held ribbon-cutting at its downtown Allentown branch at 740 Hamilton St.
· The Wiz Kidz outlet at the Madison Farms residential/retail development in Bethlehem Township will hold a grand reopening and ribbon-cutting at noon on July 15.
· Bad Biscuit Company, which offered breakfast with scratch-made biscuits, freshly baked pastry and local, small-batch artisan coffee, said it will cease operations at 16 Columbia Ave. in Reading after its July 1 hours.
· FastBridge Fiber has announced it will build an all-fiber cable network that will offer ultra-fast internet in the Reading area.
· Hamid Chaudhry has said he no longer plans to move forward with pursuing a food truck park he previously proposed on the site of the former Sheetz convenience store and gas station in Exeter Township at 6600 Perkiomen Ave. (Route 422 East).
· The Maxatawny Township Planning Commission has OK’d a proposal for a Mavis Discount Tire store in the Kutztown Road shopping center that features a Giant supermarket.
· Valentino’s Italian restaurant has gotten Maxatawny Township’s approval to remain open when the state transportation department takes one-third of its parking lot to build a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Route 222 and Long Lane.
· Pocono Mountain Harley-Davidson, under new ownership, will hold a “Grand Re-Opening Bash” July 9 and July 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
· Sauce West End plans to open in a former Rita’s Italian Ice, just off Route 209 across from the Tractor Supply store in Brodheadsville.
· The Surgery Center of Pottsville, which offered medical procedure services for 16 years in Cressona Mall. will close June 28.
· Wells Fargo has closed its branch office in Langhorne, near the intersection with Maple Avenue.
· The latest PrimoHoagies location in New Jersey held a grand opening at 1930 State Route 57, Hackettstown.
· A new Tractor Supply Co. store in Warren County will have its grand opening in the former Toys ‘R’ Us store in Pohatcong Plaza on July 9.
· Hunter Pocono Peterbilt plans to move Pocono Township operations to Stroudsburg.
· Coal Winery and Kitchen at 81 Broad St., Bethlehem, has closed as its owner searches for a new location for the business, according to its Facebook page.
· Lowhill Township supervisors approved a 312,120-square-foot commercial warehouse and distribution center on a 43.4-acre tract on the west side of Route 100, south of the Kernsville Road intersection.
· The Mint Gastropub at 1223 W. Broad St., Bethlehem, announced that it has temporarily closed to undergo a merger with a “well-known restaurant group” from Bethlehem.
· The Slatington Farmers Market opened its 28,000-square-foot showroom, which includes space for 53 vendors, as well as a 4,000-square-foot event space.
· St. Luke’s University Health Network opened a new pediatric inpatient unit next to the eight-bed pediatric intensive care unit at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem.
· 25th Asian House opened at the location of the former Tin Tin Chinese restaurant in the 25th Street Shopping Center in Palmer Township.
· The Chick-Fil-A in Broadcasting Square shopping center in Spring Township was razed to make way for a new, expanded facility for the popular chicken sandwich restaurant.
· Plans for drive-thru locations of a Chipotle and a Starbucks at the intersection of Ivy League Drive and Kutztown Road were rejected by Maxatawny Township planners.
· Cumru Township plannes reviewed preliminary plans for NorthPoint-Morgantown Commerce Center, a 738,720-square-foot warehouse to be built on 75.2 acres at Morgantown Road (State Route 10) and Freemansville Road.
· Kutztown University has plans to expand its historic Poplar House to 13,161 square feet with an addition around its side and back, but keep the 129-year-old structure intact.
· A wine store and beverage outlet could be coming to a new two-unit building along the commercial strip of Blakeslee Boulevard Drive East in Lehighton, Carbon County.
· ChristianaCare, a Delaware health care organization, has announced it will buy the former Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Chester County.
· Garden of Health Inc. celebrated the opening of the food bank’s new warehouse at 201 Church Road, North Wales, in Montgomery County.
· Silverline Trailers Inc. opened its first location in Pennsylvania and in the Northeast at 223 Porter Road, Pottstown, where it sells utility, cargo, dump, equipment and car hauler trailers.
· A new smoothie and bowl restaurant, Sips & Berries, opened at 285 Maple Ave., Harleysville, in Montgomery County.
· Terrain on the Parkway offers 160 new 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments at 1625 Lehigh Parkway East in Allentown.
· Lehigh Valley native Don Wenner is moving his real estate investment and finance firm DLP Capital from Bethlehem to Allentown at 835 W. Hamilton St.
· While Wells Fargo has been the leader in closing banks lately, it will hold a ribbon-cutting for its new downtown Allentown office at 740 Hamilton St. on June 30.
· If you’re in the market for sterling silver jewelry, minerals and semi-precious gemstones, C& I Minerals is now operating at the South Mall at 3300 Lehigh St. in Allentown.
· The Allentown-based utility company PPL Corp. bought a major Rhode Island utility.
· Ownership at Martellucci’s Pizzeria in Bethlehem has changed, but Paul and Donna Hlavinka and their family are running the pizza place at 1419 Easton Ave., just as it has been operated for 49 years.
· Dr. Jacob Kasprenski’s new Kasprenski Family Eye Care opened at 1088 Howertown Road, Catasauqua.
· Josie’s New York Deli in downtown Easton closed early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but a June 13 Historic District Commission meeting approved a request for a new sign at its building at 14 Centre Square.
· Zekraft cafe has opened its second location in the Easton Silk Mill in Easton. The first Zekraft restaurant was opened in Bethlehem. The restaurants’ menus change frequently, with a focus on local ingredients.
· Manta Massage at 319 Main St., Emmaus, will hold its grand opening on July 10 starting at 11 a.m.
· The former Iron Lakes Country Club, constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, will operate at 3625 Shankweiler Road in North Whitehall Township under its new name, The Club at Twin Lakes.
· Prologis, a titan in the logistics industry, will own and operate three warehouses proposed in Upper Macungie Township at the former Air Products headquarters campus at 7201 Hamilton Blvd.
· Lehigh Valley Health Network ceremonially opened its first Carbon County hospital — a $78 million, 100,578-square-foot facility at 2128 Blakeslee Boulevard Drive East in Mahoning Township.
· Pocono Township commissioners voted to accept Swiftwater Solar’s preliminary final plan for the $111 million, 80-megawatt field on a private 644-acre site on top of Bear Mountain that would include about 200,000 solar panels.
· Firetree Ltd. wants to expand its in-patient rehab operation at the former Sands Ford auto dealership at 440 N Claude A Lord Blvd. (Route 61), Pottsville.
· A Dunkin’ in Schuylkill County located at 400 Terry Rich Blvd., St. Clair, has become just the fourth location of the donut and coffee chain to go entirely digital.
· The Conservatory music school in Bucks County will close after 34 years, and school officials say the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause. The nonprofit, located at 4059 Skyron Drive, Doylestown, will close June 30.
· A Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Arby’s will be built on the site of the former Ahart’s Market on Route 22 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.
· Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce offices and the Unity Bank Center for Business & Entrepreneurship will be located at 119 Main St., Flemington.
· Honeygrow opens Quakertown location, next to Chipotle on Route 309, on June 3.
· Dunkin’ reopens remodeled restaurant at 1174 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township
· Muse Modern Med Spa at 325 Fifth St. in Whitehall Township will hold a grand opening June 4.
· Around Again, a consignment store, opened at 154 S. Main St., Phillipsburg
· Steak and Steel Hibachi, a restaurant in the works at 44 W. Walnut St., Bethlehem, still plans on opening late this summer.
· Take It Outdoors Recreation Hub has moved to a spot along the Schuylkill River Trail at Riverfront Park in Pottstown, Montgomery County
· Pedego Electric Bikes has a new outlet in Lambertville, N.J. at 13 N. Union St.
· Amanda Vachris has opened a new Keller Williams Real Estate office at 15 St. John St. in Schuylkill Haven.
· Easton’s new West Ward Market will open Wednesday and be open on Wednesday’s through the summer from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The market, created by the Greater Easton Development Partnership, will sell fresh produce on 12th Street, next to Paxinosa Elementary School.
· Ciao Sandwich Shoppe is adding a second location, this time on College Hill in Easton. Ciao plans to open at 325 Cattell St. in late summer. Ciao already operates in downtown Easton at 12 N. Third St
· Ma’s Crepes and Cakes will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting June 16 at 46 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe. The celebration starts at 5 p.m., with the ribbon cutting at 5:45 p.m.
· Bethlehem’s Back Door Bakeshop will reopen as a wholesale operation at 7 E. Church St. in the city’s historic district. The business was open for nine years as a retail outlet at Broad and Center streets, before announcing in March that it would close the storefront April 3 and “go back to its origins as a wholesale business.”
·The Beef Baron on Catasauqua Road in Bethlehem is closed indefinitely for renovations
· The Brothers That Just Do Gutters are opening a new location in Allentown at 1302 N. 18th St.
· St. John Chrysostom Academy, an Orthodox school serving grades 1-9 starting this fall, held a grand opening at its St. Francis Center, Bethlehem, campus.
· Easton Commons, a shopping center anchored by Giant Foods at 2920 Easton Ave., Bethlehem Township, has a new name: The Shops at Bethlehem.
· Carbon County is getting a taste of Brazil at Uai Brasil BBQ at 315 Lehigh Ave. in Palmerton.
· The Keystone Pub in Bethlehem Township, at 3259 Easton Avenue, has reopened after a lengthy and expensive renovation.
· The Trading Post Depot opened at 401 Northampton St., Easton. The rustic furniture store makes custom tables for dining rooms, desktops, conference centers and more.
· The Easton area has a new gym: Homemade Fitness at 444 Cedarville Road in Williams Township.
· Il Gaetano Ristorante opened at its 665 Columbus Ave., Phillipsburg, location.
· Ciao! Sandwich Shoppe to open second location on College Hill in Easton, replacing The Kettle Room
· Rene and Grisellies Benique have opened Ezekiel 47 Cafe at 10 S. Fifth Ave., off Fifth and Penn avenues, in West Reading.
· Alter Ego Salon and Day Spa in Emmaus is holding a grand opening Sunday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at noon.
· Origen Latin Fusion has opened at the site of the former Tomcat Cafe in Sinking Spring, Berks County.
· Sellersville Senior Residences will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 24. The Bucks County affordable-housing community for adults 55 and older has 50 apartments, with eight allocated for people with behavioral health needs.
· The House and Barn in Emmaus has opened its Shed outdoor dining and cigar bar area. The House and Barn is at 1449 Chestnut St. in Emmaus.
· Realtor Amanda Vachris and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at Vachris’s new Keller Williams Real Estate office at 15 St. John St., Schuylkill Haven, at 4 p.m. on May 24.
· Il Gaetano Ristorante will hold a grand opening on Friday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. The 665 Columbus Ave., Phillipsburg.
· First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union will hold a grand opening at its new headquarters in Trexlertown, 6126 Hamilton Blvd., on May 18.
· Vinyl Press Signs & Graphics has relocated within Emmaus. The new site is 15 S. Second St., not far from the former Sixth Street location.
· Pedro’s Cafe in Emmaus to close
· SV Sports (formerly Schuylkill Valley Sports) to close Quakertown location
· Flemington DIY will host a Grand Re-Opening on May 14 at 26 Stangl Road, Flemington. The celebration will kick off at 10 a.m.
· Elpedio’s Ristorante at Seipsville opened at 2912 Old Nazareth Road in Easton. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday.
· Uai Brazil opened at 315 Lehigh Ave, Palmerton, offering both a seated or buffet option.
· Colombian Mex Restaurant opened at 107 E Union Blvd in Bethlehem, offering traditional Colombian cuisine.
· Precision Ink opened at 161 W Berwick St. in Easton.
· King Wing opened a location in Bethlehem at 129 E. Third St., serving wings and sandwiches.
Leave a Comment