Cheap Oil a Mixed Blessing

In his article, With Oil at $36/barrel, Have Democrats just Won the Presidency?, Juan Cole offers a fairly sound discussion of the oil price situation:

The price of petroleum fell Monday to levels not seen since the crash of 2008, at one point hitting $35 a barrel in New York.

There is every reason to expect prices to remain low for a few years, and they could easily go lower as Iranian crude comes back on the market with the end of UN sanctions early next year.

One question here is whether low gasoline prices help the Democratic nominee?

What Cole certainly knows, but doesn’t get into, is that while they might be good news for Bernie or Hillary, and for pickup truck dealers, low gasoline prices represent mixed news for the climate. On the one hand, low prices means low demand, which should mean less burning of oil in vehicles. On the other, the remainder of the prosperous middle class will have little incentive to drive less or drive more efficient vehicles.

The middle class both consumes and pollutes at a greater rate than the poorer classes. Despite the many articles about the shrinking of the American middle class, there are still enough of us to release a great deal of carbon.

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