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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: And I do hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the government of the United States had this to say today about high oil and gas prices: Deal with it.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, an official from the Energy Department said gas is gonna stay close to four bucks a gallon through next year, oil's going average about $126 a barrel and there ain't much Uncle Sam can do about it.

From Washington, Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: For the Democrats, the solution is a switch to alternative fuels.

Congressman Jay Inslee posed this question to Guy Caruso today. Caruso heads the Energy Department's statistical agency.

Jay Inslee: What is the assumption we have of the percentage of our private cars that can be either electrified or based largely on domestically-produced substitute fuels in the next 20 years?

Guy Caruso: Our current assumption is 45 percent of the new car sales in 2030 would be what we call alternatively fueled vehicles.

That includes hybrids, turbodiesel and flex-fuel cars.

Republicans called for more domestic drilling, but Ruchir Kadakia at Cambridge Energy Research Associates says that won't impact prices significantly.

Ruchir Kadakia: The problems that got us to $140 oil today aren't going to be fixed by drilling. And yeah, it might alleviate some of the problem, but you're just going to pent it up and, you know, shift it back a few years.

Lehman Brothers energy analyst James Crandell says an oil production boost could help somewhat in the near-term, but as for the big transition: changing people's habits...

James Crandell: The American car fleet's very large -- it's 300 million cars or so -- so it takes a lot of time for a complete turnover to a more efficient car fleet.

One piece of good news: Crandell says modest U.S. fuel efficiency increases are likely to keep demand here flat for years and that, he says, could curb those oil prices a bit.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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