4A - Thursday, March 8, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, March 8, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
c Michinan+ )ai[y
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
This is not a game and
there's nothing casual about it."
-President Barack Obama said in response to Republican criticisms
about his policy toward Iran, TIME reported.
Thefi v e dollar gallon
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Dial back talk on Iran
GOP candidates shouldn't demand violence
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, there has
been a consistent trend of rhetorical extremism among politi-
cal candidates and policymakers ranging from unqualified
personal attacks to inappropriate statements on social issues that has
dominated our political discourse. Still, the recent barrage of rheto-
ric from the Republican presidential candidates promoting a military
attack on Iran, in violation of international law, as a legitimate option
for dealing with their nuclear prqgram is far more dangerous. The
current political climate surrounding an attack on Iran goes against
American intelligence and only quickens the path to violence.
f you are a driver or have a
friend who drives, you may have
noticed that rising gas prices
are draining peo-
ple's pockets. In
fact, driving and
have begun to
change as a result
of the 14.1-per-
increase in regu-
lar fuel costs. JASON
Analysts expect PANG JAO
gas to push to
$5 per gallon by
summertime when drivers ramp up
their gas expenditure. I will expand
on two causes that I consider most
culpable and explore U.S. political
and business options.
One of the most recognized causes
for the price hike is the Iranian dis-
pute. The nuclear program in Iran
has been widely criticized by both
the Obama and Bush administra-
tions for elevating geopolitical risks
in the Middle East. While countries
and international organizations have
condemned and even placed sanc-
tions against the oil-rich country,
Iran is not backing down. Claiming
its nuclear program is devoted to the
country's energy production, Iran
threatens to cut off its oil exports and
even seal off the Strait of Hormuz if it
were attacked by Israel or the United
States. The former threat was par-
tially carried out in February when
Iran stopped crude oil export to Brit-
ish and French firms in response to
the European Union's new sanctions,
while the latter still remains a grave
threat to the global economy.
The Strait of Hormuz is a strate-
gic waterway, and 20 percent of the
world's oil is transported through it.
Though the risk of Iran obstructing
the strait is small - as it would result
in Iran losing all of its oil revenue
- the potential downside to such
an action is significant and brought
the West Texas Intermediate Crude
Oil benchmark price up 7 percent
since the inception of the dispute in
December 2011. While the sealing of
the strait is highly improbable, evi-
dence suggests Iran may intend to
drive up the price of oil to boost the
Iranian economy, which is positively
correlated with the price of oil.
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, celebrated the revolts
in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain that
pushed the oil price above $110 per
barrel last spring, claiming that the
revolutions are in line with the Irani-
anspiritduringits 1979 revolution. In
reality, there have been more social
and political crackdowns and human
rights infringements in Egypt. Per-
haps Iranian officials wish to avoid
a civil war like those in the Middle
East and North Africa to preserve
their power. An Iranian-American
student at the University, who pre-
ferred to remain unnamed, called the
government "incredibly corrupt." As
long as the Iranian economy can keep
profiting off of the oil price, the gov-
ernment will take on any measure to
aid that cause.
A second contributor to high fuel
costs is the reduced supply of refined
petroleum. Since 2010, four east
coast refineries processing approxi-
mately 1 million barrels of oil daily
are expected to or have already
ceased operations. Analysts conclude
that thinning demand is cuttingmar-
gins below what some smaller refin-
eries can afford, driving them out of
businessbefore the real demand rises
for the spring and summer time. The
United States exported more refined
petroleum than it imported in 2011
for the first time since 1949 as a result
of a higher foreigngasoline price that
drove domestic fuel supply abroad.
With a smaller supply of gasoline and
a heavily inelastic demand for petro-
leum due to lack of economical sub-
stitutes such as natural gas vehicles,
hybrids, or electric vehicles, Ameri-
can drivers could face record-setting
gas price by this summer.
Strategically, the United States
should not wage a war against Iran as
it could lead to another global reces-
sion triggered by a 20-percent drop
in crude oil supply. Similarly, the
United States should monitor Israeli
responses to Iran's nuclear program,
as an Israeli attack on Iranian soil
may trigger retaliation by Iran.
Domestically, the United States
has the option to establish energy
initiatives that would eventually
transition the country from an oil-
driven nation to a society predomi-
nantly fueled by natural gas, which
has been trading at a decade-low
price of $2.50 per million British
thermal units. This can be accom-
plished through tax breaks on
gas stations that provide liquefied
petroleum gas and reimbursement
to drivers that convert their vehi-
cles to use LPG, which costs about
$3,000 per conversion.
If you are an investor in the stock
market, I would not leave the trad-
ing day short on oil, gasoline or any
healthy energy stocks that have
wide distribution channels in the
United States. You should be espe-
cially cautious when holding secu-
rities that are highly sensitive to oil
price, such as airline and industrial
companies. Be sure to consult with
your financial adviser and hedge
your own exposure to the energy
-Jason Pang Jao can be reached
It isn't breaking news that all of the Repub-
lican candidates - aside from Ron Paul -
have all at one point or another advocated
something similar to Rick Santorum's threat
last month to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities
if they weren't dismantled during his presi-
dency. Last week, Obama spoke at the annual
American Israeli Public Affairs Committee
convention, a 'pro-Israel lobbyist gathering,
where he committed the United States to
using military force against Iran to prevent
it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, if sanc-
tions were unable to stop them. The debate
on this issue within the political mainstream
has narrowed to a point where any option
that doesn't include a preventative war with
Iran is simply not taken seriously.
While the Iranian nuclear program's
"threat" to Israel and the United States is
constantly regurgitated in nearly every major
mediaoutlet, U.S. intelligence disagrees with
this claim. The most recent National Intel-
ligence Estimate a collective report from
all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies - states that
there is no evidence that Iran is attempt-
ing to build a nuclear weapon. The fact that
under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Iran has the right to pursue nuclear devel-
opment for a civilian purpose also seems to
have been forgotten.
The number of people who now view Iran
as a threat is nearly equivalent to the num-
ber of people who viewed Iraq as a threat in
2003. This goes to show how much political
rhetoric can influence the general popula-
tion. The fact that Americans want to go to
war does not make ita worthy cause.
There are also economic factors to con-
sider. The Republican candidates all stress
cost-cutting measures to reduce the deficit,
but a war would only increase the budget
gap. Wars are extremely costly, and would
put the nation into further debt. The Repub-
licans' stance on going to war with Iran does
not line up with their aim to slash the budget.
The threats against Iran have gotten out
of control. These claims go directly against
U.S. intelligence. The Republicans' push for
an attack also goes against their platform to
reduce the national deficit. Without concrete
evidence that Iran is makinga nuclear weap-
on outside of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,
the threat of a war should be put to rest. It
is time for our political leadership to move
away from counterproductive threats of vio-
lence and toward real diplomatic solutions
that express true concern for the security of
all parties involved.
An empty promise
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
@MittRomney YOU may have won
Super Tuesday, but the GOP Primary is
far from decided.
ALYSE OPA1OWSKI I
Take back the tap
The debate over bottled water has been
going on for a long time. While everyone has
their own opinions on it, we should ultimate-
ly have options. These options are the reason
why, regardless of your beliefs about the bot-
tled water debate, we should allow empty reus-
able bottles into Michigan Stadium.
From the tailgates, cheering, standing and
hot weather (at least at the beginning of the
season), everyone needs water at the games.
But the only option we currently have is to pay
the ridiculous price of $4 per bottle or drink out
of one of the 28 water fountains in the stadium.
With more than 100,000 fans in attendance at
each game, that amounts to about 3,570 peo-
ple per one water fountain. The stadium also
provides little cups with a minimal amount of
water in them. However, you need a lot of these
cups to really quench your thirst - the obvious
issue of waste will be discussed later.
While most people buy bottled water out
of convenience or because they have no other
choice, some people still believe bottled water
is healthier than tap water. Contrary to popular
belief, bottled water is not safer than tap water.
There are more stringent standards and more
safety tests for tap water than bottled water.
The chemicals from the plastic bottle can also
leach into your water.
The manufacturing of bottled water uses
more water and energy than the amount of
water that actually goes into the bottle. The
Pacific Institute estimates that for every liter of
water in a plastic bottle, two liters of water are
used to make the plastic and bottle the water.
The manufacturing of polyethylene tere-
phthalate bottles, water extraction, bottling
and distribution amounts to up to 2,000 times
the energy cost of producing tap water.
A large problem with all the bottled water
in the stadium is the waste it produces. The
initiative to allow reusable water bottles into
the stadium can even help the Athletic Depart-
ment save money on waste pick-up by having
less waste produced from plastic water bottles.
Reasons mentioned for banning reusable
bottles were to avoid bringing alcohol into
the stadium and to expedite fans' admission
through the gate. Thankfully, there is an easy
solution to these problems: allow only empty
reusable bottles. This way, there is no way of
sneaking alcohol in the bottles and security
guards can easily and efficiently shake the bot-
tle to make sure it is empty - problem solved.
Some people are also worried about throwing
reusable bottles at other fans and onto the field,
but people can still buy a plastic bottle and
throw it, in addition to other items such as food
Our stadium is the Big House for a reason.
Let's use the power of all our fans to create a
more sustainable stadium. To sign the petition
to allow empty reusable water bottles in the Big
House, go to:
Alyse Opatowski is an LSA senior and
the campus coordinator of Take Back the
Tap at the University of Michigan.
When I was seven, my par-
ents gave my younger
brother Tom and me a
cookie each. I
mine, but Tom
was more inter-
ested in going
outside to play.
It was late, but I
that if he gave
me his cookie M
we could play. MATTHEW
He agreed, and ZABKA
while I ate his
asked my parents for permission to
go outside. They said no. My brother
- the tattle-tale - told my parents
what had happened, and I had to sit
in the corner for an hour.
Even though he was only five,
that day Tom learned even his older
brother could not control everything.
Today, tweets with the hashtag
"#250gas" suggest a similar les-
son has escaped in our 18-and-older
voting population: There are things
that even the president of the United
States cannot control.
As students filled up cars with
expensive gas to go wherever under-
graduates go for spring break, presi-
dential candidate Newt Gingrich
asserted that if he were president, gas
prices would plummet. "There is no
reason we can't get gasoline down to
$2 and $2.50 a gallon," Gingrich said
during a speech on Feb. 20 in Tulsa,
Arizona. His 2008 book is titled
"Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A
Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices
and Solving Our Energy Crisis."
Gingrich's argument for more
drilling appeals to the law of supply
and demand, which tells us that, all
else constant, if the supply of a com-
modity such as oil increases, its price
will fall. Increased drilling would
increase the supply of oil and thus
lower the price of gasoline.
His argument, however, ignores
the word "demand" in the law of
supply and demand, which also
tells us that, all else constant, if a
commodity's demand increases, its
price will increase. Since oil is sold
on the world market, "Drill Here,
Drill Now, Play Less" and #250gas
could only work if American oil
production increased enough to
counter increasing world demand.
The accompanying graph shows
U.S. oil production since 1940. Note
the decrease since the mid-1980s
that has resulted from drying wells
in Texas and the small increase
since 2008 as the result of new
technologies and drilling oppor-
tunities in places such as North
Dakota. Today, the United States
produces about 5.5 million barrels
of oil per day.
Let us assume that Gingrich were
elected in November and suppose
that in eight short years his policies
somehow caused the United States'
oil output to double, adding an addi-
tional 5.5 million barrels per day.
Would this be enough to counteract
rising world demand and lower our
gas prices to $2.50?
To answer this question we need
look at only one country. The U.S.
Energy Information Administra-
tion predicts China, which cur-
rently uses 9.1 million barrels per
day, will in 2020 use 12.7 million
barrels per day - an increase of 3.6
million barrels per day. So China
by itself could consume all of the
additional oil that we assumed the
United States would produce under
the Gingrich administration.
In addition, the assumption that
the United States could double oil
production in eight years is unrealis-
tic. The latest increase since 2009 in
U.S. oil production comes largely out
of North Dakota, and at its current
oil production level, doubling U.S.
production would require more than
twelve North Dakotas.
All of this suggests that while
increased drilling may reduce the
price Americans would otherwise
pay at the pump, demand outstrip-
ping supply will cause gas prices to
trend upward, regardless of a presi-
dent's oil policy.
Back in the 1980s, as I took my
brother's cookie, I knew I could
not possibly follow through on my
promise. ButI was seven, and I real-
ly wanted his cookie.
Today, a 68-year-old politician is
promising American voters $2.50
gas, something he knows he cannot
Buthe really wants your votes.
- Matthew Zabka can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him
on twitter at @MatthewZabka.
Annual U.S. Field Production of Crude Oil
I I I I I I I I
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980
1990 2000 2010
Source: U.S. Energy informatlon Adminlstraton