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Center for Policy Studies
Public Affairs Discussion Group

What Explains the Price of Gasoline?

Steven W. Percy - former Chairman and CEO, BP of America
Friday March 6, 2015
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

Gasoline prices are easy to notice: they are on big signs all around us. The price of gasoline and other petroleum products is also a significant part of personal budgets and influence on the economy. Price spikes in 1973 and 1979 precipitated recessions. 2014, however, saw a nearly unprecedented collapse in prices. According to AAA, the average price for regular gasoline fell, in the year to January 11, 2015, by more than a third. So what the heck is going on?

The simple answer says there is supply and demand on a world market, and supplies have increased especially due to new extraction techniques in the United States. But the scale of price changes far exceeds the shifts in supply, and wide variations in price across the country show that the world market is only one influence. Both this volatility and variation are nothing new. Nor are arguments that public policy (such as, for example, a pipeline from Canada to Houston…) could have major effects on prices. Which again raises questions: if public policy matters so much, what recent policies mattered (if any)?

Steve Percy can help us identify questions and make sense of answers. He joined the Standard Oil Company in 1976 and, after its purchase by BP, served as Chair and CEO of BP America from 1996 to 1999. After retiring from BP he was head of Phillips Petroleum's Refining, Marketing and Transportation Company. He has been visiting professor at the University of Michigan, consultant to many boards and commissions, and for 2012-13 served as Interim Dean of Cleveland State University's School of Business.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest

Steven Percy is the former Chairman and CEO of BP America, Inc., BP’s U.S. subsidiary prior to its merger with Amoco Corporation, and served in that capacity from 1996 until 1999. Prior to assuming those duties, he was President of BP Oil in the U.S. from 1992 to 1996. Mr. Percy returned to BP America in 1992 from London, England where he served as Group Treasurer of The British Petroleum Company p.l.c. and Chief Executive of BP Finance International.

Since retiring from BP he has served as the head of Phillips Petroleum’s Refining, Marketing and Transportation Company, visited as a Professor of Corporate Strategy and International Business at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, lectured at Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and conducted workshops on corporate governance for the AHC Group, a strategic consultant in the areas of environment, energy, and materials.

Mr. Percy has recently contributed to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as Coordinating Lead Author with respect to its Conceptual Framework and its Responses working group as well as leading the writing of its synthesis report for business and industry.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 13: Spring Break

March 20: TBD

March 27: Talking Turkey: Some Personal (and Historical) Perspectives on Turkish Politics and Society. With John Grabowski, Krieger-Mueller Associate Professor in Applied History; Senior Vice President for Research and Publications, Western Reserve Historical Society.

April 3: Origins and Prospects of the Islamic State. With Karl C. Kaltenthaler, Professor of Political Science, University of Akron.

April 10:
Obama's White House and Management Style: A Recipe for Success or Failure? With David B. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Akron.

April 17: Is It Time For A New U.S. “Grand Strategy?” With Patrick C. Doherty, Co-director, Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University.

April 24: TBD
March 2, 2015

If you would like to reply, submit items for inclusion, or not receive this weekly e-mail please send a notice to:

Upcoming Events

High-Risk Activism and Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank

A discussion with Professor Joel Beinin, Ph.D., Stanford University, Monday, March 2, 2015, 4:30 p.m., Tinkham Veale University Center, Ballroom A, Case Western Reserve University, 11308 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Department of History, NOCMES, and Kent State University, and the Center for Policy Studies.

Scholars have long distinguished between normal political protest and what can be termed “high-risk activism,” exemplified for example in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964. The International Solidarity Movement consciously invoked that example by designating its 2002 campaign of Palestine solidarity action “Freedom Summer.” Protesting the occupation in any form has always been a high-risk activity for Palestinians, who have regularly experienced tear gas, beatings, torture, incarceration, and live fire from Israeli security forces, as well as indefinite administrative detention and other judicial procedures based on secret evidence. Professor Beinin will discuss the participation beginning in 2002 of Israelis and internationals in situations of similar risks, especially in protest of the separation barrier between Israel and the territories. What perceptions of the conflict, of others and oneself encouraged and enabled that participation?

Religion in the Public Square

A discussion with George W. Dent, Jr., J.D., Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D., Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute, and Dr. Robert Talisse, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, Friday March 6, 2015, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Moot Courtroom (A59), Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106-7148. Sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Appeals to religious values as part of political debate are both ubiquitous and controversial. Over the years they have been invoked in regard to issues ranging from abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage, to the nuclear freeze and addressing social injustices. Yet there are frequent claims that if policies are adopted based on religious values, that could violate the separation of church and state. Should there, then, be limits on the invocation of religious claims and justifications in the public sphere?

This program will present speakers on both sides of the issue and give members of the audience opportunities to raise questions.

March 2015







































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