'Disinvestment' Policy Does Disservice To All
On at least one occasion in this space we have noted the far-reaching effects of a rise in gasoline and oil prices on all aspects of life in this borough. Almost everything sold in every store, be that store a mom-and-pop deli or a big-box retailer, has been trucked in. A sizeable proportion of the products sold in those stores are made with or packaged in some form of plastic, a petroleum derivative. Trucks run on gasoline or diesel oil, as does public transportation (even the subways are powered by electricity that comes from oil-fueled generators), as well as the so-called "black car" industry that picks up where the public transportation system leaves off. There is no aspect of daily life that the petroleum industry does not touch.
Oil and its refinery byproduct, gasoline, is vital to the economic and physical well being of everyone in Queens. So it was with no little trepidation that we heard last week that a major source of oil, the pipeline from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields on the northern coast of Alaska, would be shut down and more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day would not make their way to the rest of the United States.
Other oil-producing countries have offered to help fill the gap while the pipeline is out of commission. Be that as it may, whatever ameliorative measures are taken, one certain result of the pipeline shutdown will be higher prices for everything.
Queens residents, especially those who live in the borough's Northwestern neighborhoods,
are already reeling from the devastating effects of the blackout of 2006, especially those effects that played havoc with their wallets. Borough business owners are in the same situation. Those fortunate enough to have generators to back up the power in the transmission of which they can no longer place perfect faith will soon see the cost of fuel for the generators escalating. Rising fuel prices bring about higher prices for all kinds of goods and services, whether or not those goods and services are readily available.
Investment in infrastructure--and research and development--is essential to our collective well-being. We urge all public utilities and petroleum companies to invest in our future.