Home Discussion Forum Why do people generally have a negative opinion of the energy industry?

Why do people generally have a negative opinion of the energy industry?

The energy industry seems to be the one business area that all politicians can pillory indiscriminately and the media fuels the flames. But what is the basis for this other than our present condition of high energy prices?


  1. I believe it is because energy is easy to demonize, and the media and politicians have done so. Why is it easy to demonize? Well, I’m no economist, but it seems that the demand has the appearance of being variable (is the term elastic?), but in reality energy’s not as much a luxury as we’d like to think. Our economy is based on it so much, it is almost a necessity–like food. So people feel trapped into *needing* to purchase energy–while at the same time, don’t picture it as a “necessary evil” that’s just fixed in their budget, like food or housing.
    Also, the term oil “production” is a misnomer. It’s really oil extraction. Unlike food crops, we can’t grow more fossil fuels, so the inexpensive supply is linked to technology and the economically extractable reserves at any time. Further complicating this is the STEEP curve to boost production, as it’s difficult to bring things online quickly (not just technical, but also the environmental debates over drilling and refinery construction).
    Many Americans fail to realize that the government makes 5 times the profits from a gallon of gas that the oil company makes, and they don’t even provide the product. Many Americans fail to realize that we have blocked ourselves from drilling off our coast, yet the Chinese and Cubans are doing so in the same oil fields that we could be using–and using less environmentally friendly methods to do it than we would have done! Many Americans do not realize that all the environmental regulations we’ve patched together require “boutique blends” that shoot the price up as production lines have to be switched and purged.
    Finally, there’s a bias in the media. Even though insurance companies make higher percentage profits, for example, the media don’t get after them the same way. And the dislike of certain industries is based on politics, IMHO.

  2. The energy industry is given it’s negative opinion because everyone hates large successful corporations. The top management is seen as fat cats. Another problem is the infrastructure can be seen nearly everywhere, and plants and refineries are located all over the country to make distribution of power, oil, gas, and coal easier.
    When you think of oil it’s hard not to point towards the Exxon Valdez and other major spills. Chernobyl’s incident and the radiation that affected that area. One thing that isn’t taken into consideration is that the need for energy that these companies are providing is brought about by our usage.
    It’s easy to hate someone you pay a power bill to, or buy $3.00 plus gasoline from, but those costs and increasing costs are dictated by global needs, power companies are at the mercy of their fuel suppliers.
    Now couple in global warming and everyone wants to blame large coal users. The energy industry is taking note and you’ll notice every energy commercial will now focus on portraying an environmental and people friendly image.
    Another major contributor is the Erin Brockovich movie and Enron. We crucified the management of Enron for taking advantage of California’s dependance on other peoples energy. This dependence was born out of Californias reluctance to allow plants in their own state. A major current trend is Natural Gas plants in our country that has inadequate natural gas infrastructure. But no one wants a gas line going across their property. No one wants a plant or refinery in their back yard. No one wants to see power lines in their yard, people don’t want to see stacks or even windmills on their horizon.
    We are a society that blames others, we hate large corporations, we don’t ask ourselves why? The real reason why is our demand and our increasing demand. What’s the average size of a home today compared to the 60’s? How much more trash to we generate now compared to 40 years ago? How many appliances do we now have that plug in compared to the 60’s? How many cars are there in the US now compared to the 60’s?
    I am not advocating a reduction in our usage of these items. We can clean up plants, we can develop and use alternate fuels, but these things come with a cost to the consumer. In our Wal-mart world of getting things as cheap as we possibly can, we have to be willing to pay for these new technologies. Some of these costs are substantially more than we are paying right now. Until we are willing to pay these costs, allow these infrastructures in our areas, and realize these energy items are our own creation, change won’t take place.

  3. why don’t people seem more upset at gov’t. they tax and we pay and they still don’t do anything much that is worthwhile.
    at least energy companies give us fuel to use for our money.


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