As I stood at a pump island fuelling up my Jeep, It struck me how unusual it is these days to find a gas station that actually offers a full service choice, like the one I was at.
Pumping gas was one of those things a lot of young guys my age started out their career in the work world with, me included. Those were the days when you pumped the gas, washed the windows and even occasionally checked the oil or pumped up a low tire. Compressed air at a gas station was free back then, offered as a courtesy.
These days it can be rare to even get a courteous “thank you” from a gas station clerk. Of course most of them are working for minimum wage, so I can understand their lack of enthusiasm for their job. Thankfully, it’s not even necessary to speak to anyone when you fuel up anymore. Just pay with your credit card at the pump and walk away.
As I stood at that station watching the dollar value readout on the pump race upward, it occurred to me pumping my own gas has become so second nature I actually prefer it to letting a station attendant do it. Back in the ‘70s when stations were changing over to self-serve, I felt the opposite way. It’s funny how attitudes change.
One of the other things that has changed since then is the price of diesel is now typically higher than gasoline. It used to always be the other way. And there has been some interesting news on the diesel front this week. Now that the election campaign in Manitoba is under way, the ruling Conservative party has announced a new promise: If they’re re-elected, they’ll increase the renewable fuels mandate in diesel from two percent to five. If that’s a good thing, why not do it now?
(I guess being present in the Legislature for pesky chores like passing laws would cut into our premiere’s leisure time at his Costa Rica homestead.)
“This step would create a win-win-win scenario benefitting the environment, farmers and the economy,” says Rick White, CEO, Canadian Canola Growers Association in a press release. “It offers reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, new market opportunities for farmers, and investment and jobs in Canada’s processing sector.”
I’m always sceptical of the claim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in statements like these, because fully evaluating the impact on the environment through the full production and distribution chain is a complex one. But there is no doubt canola growers would welcome a stronger domestic market for their product now that China is, as the British say, playing silly buggers with canola purchases from Canada. And that has hurt elevator prices.
According to the Canola Growers, canola currently makes up about 40 per cent of the sustainable biofuel feedstock mix in Canada’s diesel supply. If a similar change to the one being discussed in Manitoba were introduced across Canada, 1.3 million tonnes of canola would be used up in Canada’s domestic renewable fuel supply.
It’s always hard to say if political parties will keep their election promises. I’m not betting next week’s paycheque that this one will ever see the light of day. But with today’s crazy, upside-down world of global trade that is the product of Donald Trump’s madness, a lot of countries, including ours, may—among other things—need to look at new domestic uses for what used to be exports.
We may have no choice.