It's the Environment, Stupid.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Italian oil baron comments on American consumers

It's always nice to have an outsiders perspective on the American way of life - I enjoyed Saturday's NY Times interview excerpts from Italian oil baron Paolo Scaroni. Below are my favorite excerpts of the excerpts.

"Q: Some people believe high oil prices are here to stay. Do you share that view?

A: First of all prices are not very high. Sixty dollars a barrel is not very high. If they were high, the American consumer in particular would behave differently. As long as each American consumer burns 26 barrels of oil per year against 12 for Europeans, this means that the prices are not high. High means that people start to say that I can use my energy better. Today, a barrel of oil is worth half a barrel of Coca-Cola. So you should put things into perspective. It has been clear to everybody that the Western world can live with oil above $30, $40, $50, $60, $70 a barrel and economies expand, inflation is low, and consumers continue to drive S.U.V.’s and air-conditioners are so high in American restaurants that you have to put on a coat otherwise you get sick.

Q. Are you saying the American economy is wasteful in its energy use?

A: Certainly it doesn’t use energy efficiently. Look, if in America cars had the same efficiency as European cars, we would save the total production of Iran. That’s four million barrels a day.

Q. So it’s all the fault of Detroit and carmakers?

A. Even if the United States were independent, hydrocarbons would remain a limited resource. We have a total interest in using that limited resource to increase our efficiency, lengthening the life of the fossil fuels, for environmental reasons. This will more than compensate all the efforts we make in renewable energy. This is not to say we don’t have to make renewables but the potential for efficiencies we have is enormous."

Glad I'm not the only one who thinks folks in the U.S. abuse their energy privileges...

For the rest of the excerpts click here.

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