The smog is said to be not from cars or coal plants, but from the smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces. And it’s not because the Greeks are curling up with a good book. It seems that there has been a massive switch off heating oil as many can no longer afford it to heat their homes.p&c Michael Kors Bloomberg says heating oil prices have risen here 50 percent from 2011 to 2012, mainly due to the heavy taxes levied on. So the Greeks are turning to burning everything from furniture to chopped down trees, some illegally cut from protected forests.According to the EPA, a fireplace emits more than 2,000 times the amount of fine particles that an oil furnace does. Surely, the environmental and health care costs from toxic clouds of smoke exceed the benefits of collecting high heating oil taxes, especially if the citizens are no longer buying it.
Editor’s note: Blake Clayton is a fellow for energy and national security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He recently wrote a major new study on the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve published by the Council, available here.The chaos in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere has the oil market on edge, and with good reason. But there is another scare among oil traders, much closer to home, one that could be catastrophic for gasoline prices if oil imports are disrupted this fall.Speculation among experts is rife that the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is no longer able to release oil to the market as quickly as the Department of Energy claims it can.p&c Michael Kors If true – and there is good reason to believe it is – it could destroy the White House’s ability to prevent oil prices from skyrocketing if the commotion in the Middle East worsens. This needs to be fixed – and fast.
The SPR is the nation’s last defense against a dire loss of oil supplies capable of sending the economy into a tailspin. The potential for a military confrontation between Israel and Iran, which could require the United States to release oil from the SPR, makes this resource more critical than ever.p&c Michael Kors But analysts are skeptical that the U.S. federal government is as functional as advertised. The Department of Energy has offered only a weak denial of these allegations. For a lesson in how a lack of transparency can end up hurting the very market it aims to calm, Washington need look no further than Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia holds the lion’s share of OPEC spare capacity – in other words, oil left unused but which could be brought online quickly and sustainably if need be. Its exalted place among producers stems in part from its ability to convince the market that it can plug an unforeseen gap in supplies, and thus keep prices stable.