Say goodbye to $3 gas, chamber audience told

Gasoline prices are unlikely to drop below $3 a gallon again because of the global growth in demand for fuel, a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday.

That demand slowly pushed up the price of gasoline in recent months, outweighing the effects of reduced demand in the United States as a result of the nation’s economic doldrums, said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy.

“We’re all competing for the same resources,” forcing prices up globally, Guith said.

Guith and two other U.S. Chamber officials spoke to members of the Grand Junction, Fruita, Glenwood Springs and Montrose area chambers of commerce at Two Rivers Convention Center.

The United States can counter some of that trend, he said, by encouraging additional production from domestic sources, including the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, as well as moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline.

Although crude oil production is increasing in the United States, the increase is because of drilling on private or state lands, not those controlled by the federal government, which is by far the largest landowner in the West, with large amounts of natural gas and some oil.

Natural-gas discoveries across the nation, especially in shales several thousand feet below the surface, have changed the nation’s energy outlook and shifted attention from sources such as nuclear power, Guith said.

Businesses are under assault by the National Labor Relations Board, Ted Phlegar, senior counsel to the U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, told the Colorado chamber members.

There now are more public-sector union members than private-sector union members, Phlegar said. Efforts aimed at making it easier to unionize are intended to change that ratio, Phlegar said, pointing to plans to shorten the time for businesses to prepare for union elections and to defer questions of voter eligibility until after elections.

Unions were frustrated in their efforts to get card-check legislation passed but are pursuing the same goals through regulations, Phlegar said.

Some small business will find that provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will strike them heavily, Jeff Lungren said.

In particular, companies looking to grow will find that hitting the 50-employee mark will cause new regulations and costs designed for larger businesses to kick in.

“That 50th employee will be the most expensive employee you ever hired,” Lungren told chamber members.


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