Public Perceptions of Energy

Although gasoline prices have relaxed a bit recently, easing the pain for most folks, there remains a strong need for educating the general public on our industry.  The dominant impression most people seem to have is high gasoline prices, large profits and pollution.  Nothing positive!


The truth is our industry provides a valuable public service, one we should all be very proud of and brag about.


Energy plays a vital role in our civilization.  If you don’t believe it, think back a century or so.  At the dawn of the 20th century, our grandparents’ lives were very different from what we enjoy today.  Travel was by horseback.  Work was done largely by animals and food and clothing were by-and-large grown locally.  Light was provided by kerosene lamps or by fireplaces and hot baths were something you enjoyed only on Saturday’s.  The twentieth century was the century of petroleum, and with it came enormous progress in our way of life.  Who wants to travel to work on horseback?  (It’s painfully slow by today’s standards.)   And who wants to forego our daily hot shower?  Not me!


Last September this article reported on a Public Energy Education Summit facilitated by The Global Energy Management Institute at the of The Gulf Coast Section was represented by our Vice Chairman, Allen Shook.  While there are many excellent education and public relations programs reported there, everyone agreed that the most effective programs are those at the grass-roots level.  This position was also endorsed by our recent SPE President, Eve Sprunt, in her State of the Society address to members at the ATCE. 


The grass-roots level is you and me.  I would like to start a dialog with Gulf Coast Section members on experiences with friends, relatives and neighbors in improving the oil industry image.  Drop me an email with your experiences, both successes and challenges.


Earlier this year, while visiting in , my sister complained to me about high gasoline prices.  I pointed out that crude oil and gasoline prices were determined on commodity trading markets, subject to the laws of supply and demand.  No one is large enough to control either of these prices.  I also pointed out that she had options for dealing with high energy costs.  She could shop for the lowest gasoline prices in her area.  She could look for ways to conserve energy.  Most of us have ways to continue doing well, even with less energy.  And if her bank account allowed, she could invest in the industry and enjoy a share of the profits.  I hope this helped, but it’s important for all of us not to back down or be apologetic.  Ours should be a proud industry quick to defend its record.


So, let me hear from you about your experiences.  Send me an e-mail at .