American Morning

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July 27th, 2009
09:32 AM ET

Commentary: Expensive gas will "change our lives for the better"

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Steiner says today's cheap fill ups aren't going to last."]

Last summer, people parked their cars and decided to get rid of their SUVs. They walked, they biked and they car-pooled because gas soared to four bucks a gallon nationwide. A lot of people are wondering how high it will go. Now AAA says the national average is $2.50 today.

Christopher Steiner is a senior staff reporter at Forbes and wrote the book ‘$20 per gallon’ about the inevitable rise in gas and how it’s going to change our lives for the better. He spoke with CNN’s Kiran Chetry Monday.

Kiran Chetry: How do you convince people to worry about the price of gasoline when it's relatively low? It was $4 last year and now on average it’s $2.50 a gallon

Christopher Steiner: Well some people you can't convince to worry. As economies recover across the world and we get these 2 billion people that are going enter the global middle class for the next 30 years, right now there’s only a billion around the globe. The price of oil will go up, it's inevitable.

Chetry: You talk about the growing middle class in China and India. How are they going to affect the world as we know it in terms of gasoline usage?

Steiner: Those people want to live the same types of lives we already have. China just passed the United States as the largest car market in the world during the first half of 2009. That's an amazing thing. If someone had told you that was going to happen ten years ago, you would have thought they were nuts.

Chetry: Another interesting thing that you wrote about in your book, when we talk about how gas is a natural resource, it’s not an infinite resource. For every six gallons of gas we use we only take one out of the ground.

Steiner: For every six barrels we use we only find one. So we're using at a much greater rate than we're finding because we found most of the good oil.

Chetry: Also the process it takes for us to get gasoline now is much harder. So how does it translate to the person at home who’s driving an SUV, who wants to be able to drive what they want and is paying $2.50 a gallon right now?

Steiner: It's hard to force people to change when life is so easy at $2.50. What you're going to see is people aren't going to change their lives until they have a reason to and that reason is the price of gas. When people think about tomorrow, if they got up and the price of gas was three times as much, would they drive as far to go to work? Would they be willing to drive their kids as far? Would they be willing to live in the same town as they live in now? The answer for a lot of people is no.

Chetry: You talk about the psychological tipping point at $6 a gallon. When do you think that we will see $6 a gallon?


Filed under: Economy
July 27th, 2009
06:58 AM ET
July 27th, 2009
06:54 AM ET

Palin steps down as Alaska governor

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sarah Palin told a crowd in Fairbanks that she accomplished what she had promised as governor."]

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (CNN) - Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her final speech as Alaska's governor Sunday before stepping down from her post, telling a Fairbanks crowd that she is resigning "to chart a new course to advance the state."

"Now people who know me, they know how much I love this state ... I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one's last year in office," Palin said, just moments before Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell was sworn in as governor.

"With this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for the truth," Palin continued. "And I have never felt you need a title to do that."

Palin - interrupted briefly by a heckler - devoted much of her last address to a rundown of her accomplishments as governor, including winning legislative approval for a massive natural gas pipeline and governing "with fiscal restraint."

"What I promised, we accomplished," she told the mostly supportive crowd.

Palin has been a polarizing figure in the Republican Party since August, when then-presidential candidate John McCain made her his pick for vice president. At the time, little was known about the first-term governor. Within days, Palin's face and strong personality was splashed across newspapers, magazines and tabloids.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: American Morning
July 27th, 2009
06:47 AM ET

St. Cloud Mayor Stormy over stimulus

Four months ago, Vice President Joe Biden took a stimulus road trip to St. Cloud, Minnesota to tout the prospects of recovery program jobs. Now the Mayor of St. Cloud, Dave Kleis, is one of the nation's most outspoken stimulus critics.

At the event, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said cities like St. Cloud should expect to see stimulus jobs as early as last spring.

Kleis says he's still waiting for those jobs as he hasn't heard back from the Obama administration to approve nearly a dozen stimulus requests for his town.

But we did a little digging and found some stimulus jobs are coming to St. Cloud. The local sign-making company, Geyer Signal, has hired 25 workers. They make the Recovery Act highway signs that are popping up on interstates around the country.

And the St. Cloud Airport has received funding for a new jet bridge, even though the facility sees only three commercial flights a day.

St. Cloud has weathered the recession well. Thanks to state road construction projects, already underway downtown, the city has an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent. That's far below the national average.

Not good enough for Mayor Kleis who says his city hasn't gotten its fair share of the stimulus.

Filed under: Economy
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