Author Topic: Black Gold (and Green Earth)  (Read 49151 times)

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Offline nacho

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Black Gold (and Green Earth)
« on: May 16, 2008, 12:49:18 PM »
Okay, let's give oil its own thread.  Right now, I'm watching everything creep over the four dollar mark on the way to work, and the world is ending.  The suburbs are in flames, there's mass murder, and the American government has broken down.  So as we all collect our guns and prepare for the worst -- we'll chart oil stories, prices, and related events right here. (edit -- related = green news, such as the electric car, changes in mass transit, etc.)

We start out with the breaking news -- Bush offered Saudi Arabia tens of billions in much needed weapons to further destabilize the Mid-East and oppress the common people in exchange for cheaper oil (that is, higher production).  Saudi Arabia has just replied with a big fuck you.

Bush will have to resort to different tactics:



The gasoline will be ours!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2008, 11:14:38 AM by nacho »

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 12:51:30 PM »
Alaska goes insane and rewards SUV owners:


Quote
Palin proposes $1.2 Billion energy relief program
Governor Palin is proposing a two pronged approach to providing Alaskans energy relief in a $1.2 Billion program that she'll propose to the Legislature to fund.

The program calls for grants to electric utilities and debit cards to Permanent Fund Dividend recipients for the next 12 months.

The amount allocated for children’s benefits will accrue to the card of the sponsor on their PFD application. Money not used on the card one month will carry over to the next month. It is expected that the amount available to individuals through the card will be considered income by the IRS.

The temporary Energy Debit Card can be used for purchases from Alaska energy vendors, such as heating oil distributors, natural gas utilities, electric utilities, gas stations and other retail fueling stations.

The governor says returning surplus funds through grants to the utilities will result in a 60 percent reduction for all rate payers. She says the benefit will flow to homeowners, renters, schools, government, and businesses.

A review by the Department of Law indicates that there should be no federal income tax consequence since the grants act to offset the revenue collected by utilities.

In addition, there will be conservation incentives for the utilities. For every 1 percent reduction in 2008 kilowatt hour sales from 2007 sales, the state will make a year-end contribution for capital energy projects to the utility.

The Governor told reporters the state's treasury is swelling, while family check books are evaporating. The right thing to do, she says, is to return surplus monies to the resources owners through energy relief."

The grant to electric utilities is expected to be $475 million, while the Energy Debit Card totals are forecast to be $729 million. The Governor has proposed this energy relief plan for one year.

-----

CBJ Manager Rod Swope's gut feeling is that Palin's plan looks like a good one, particularly for Juneau.

Even though it's a statewide plan, Swope thinks it's timely and provide good, needed relief to local residents.

So he say he's very pleased and was glad to see some substance to the plan.

Quote
Gov. Palin proposes $1.2 billion for statewide energy help

Story last updated at 5/15/2008 - 2:24 pm

By PAT FORGEY
JUNEAU EMPIRE
Gov. Sarah Palin is proposing an expensive plan to subsidize energy costs for Alaskans, reducing their electricity bills by 60 percent and providing each Alaska Permanent Fund dividend applicant with a debit card valued at $1,222 to be used for petroleum products.
At a press conference Thursday in Anchorage, Palin made frequent references to Juneau’s energy crisis and noted the amount of electricity the city had been able to save since April avalanches cut off its source of abundant hydroelectric power.
Later in the press conference, however, she talked about the possibility of not holding the special session scheduled for June 3 in Juneau so as to not burden the community.
Palin’s plans for energy relief would require legislative action and cost about $1.2 billion, said Pat Galvin, commissioner of the Department of Revenue.
Department of Commerce and Economic Development Commissioner Emil Notti said the relief would be for a single year only, so as to not create an ongoing cost to the state.
“It does it without creating an entitlement, without continuing government subsidy, which no one wants,” he said.
At least two energy subsidy plans died in the last Legislative session. Palin said her energy team put this plan together in a relatively short time. Some details have yet to be worked out, such as when it would be able to begin.

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 01:05:46 PM »
Meanwhile, the rebirth of the electric car:

Quote
Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn this week declared that he wants to lead the world in producing all-electric, zero-emission cars. But the head of Japan's No. 3 auto maker by sales volume is hedging his bets in the race to mass market environmentally friendly vehicles.

In an interview Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Ghosn said not all of the electric cars Nissan manufactures will be purely electric or emission free. He said Nissan would make some models available with an optional "range extender" – a gas-powered engine that recharges the battery and allows the vehicle to continue going after the initial plug-in charge expires.

"The basis is electric, pure electric, zero emission. But you always have the possibility of having a range extender," he said.

Such a device would allow Nissan's electric car, which will be introduced in limited numbers in the U.S. and Japan by 2010 and marketed globally in 2012, to compete with rival vehicles planned by General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.

In 2010, GM is planning to launch the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car with a gas-powered engine to recharge the battery while driving. The same year, Toyota is expected to roll out its "plug-in" Prius hybrid.

Nissan says its electric car will have a range of 100 miles on a single charge. With the range extender, the car would be able to travel an additional 300 miles before refueling or recharging.

Mr. Ghosn said that his vision is to put the world behind the wheel of a zero emission vehicle to address growing concerns tailpipe emissions about the environment. Outfitting vehicles with gas-powered range extenders would fall short of that goal, but such a compromise may help make Nissan's vehicles more appealing to consumers, who are likely to be concerned about the limited range of a purely electric car..

"The more practical solution is the hybrid. You can plug in hybrid. It's more consumer friendly," says Tatsuo Yoshida, an auto industry analyst at UBS Securities Japan in Tokyo.

Several years ago, Nissan debated over whether to pursue hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, as Honda Motor Co. is doing, or electric cars in the U.S. market, but settled on electric cars because of the high cost of producing fuel cell vehicles and the difficulties in creating widespread hydrogen refueling points. Mr. Ghosn added that Nissan will continue to pursue fuel cell technology, which he believes is the long term solution to power vehicles in the future.

And a fluff story from the Washington Post:

Quote
Old-Style Pumps Balk At $4-a-Gallon Gas, Too

By Nick Miroff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 16, 2008; A01

Like a lot of small-scale entrepreneurs, Cathy Osborne worries that she'll go out of business if fuel prices rise above $4 a gallon. Not because she won't be able to buy gas at that price, but because she won't be able to sell it.

The old mechanical gas pumps with scrolling dials at her country store in Fauquier County lack the gears to go beyond $3.99 a gallon. State inspectors shut down her diesel pump several months ago when the fuel topped the $4 mark, so now all that's left are two pumps dispensing 87-octane gasoline, set at $3.75 -- and climbing.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't have $30,000 to invest in new pumps, and I'm barely skipping by," said Osborne, who owns the Orlean Market and Restaurant, a store dating from 1892 with horse-country views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and miles of rolling Virginia Piedmont.

Osborne said she doesn't make money on fuel sales, but the pumps are a big draw for the hay farmers and cattlemen who gas up their tractors and take their morning coffee in her store. The next-closest service station is a 40-minute round-trip drive to Warrenton, and in Orlean, Osborne's barbecue sandwiches and Amish-baked cherry pie face no competition.

"If people have to go into town to get gas, they'll say, 'Oh, I'll just go to Burger King,' " Osborne said.

At gas stations in the Washington region, digital screens and electronic credit-card readers are standard, but in tiny communities such as Orlean, about 60 miles west of the District, many mom-and-pop markets are pumping in analog. The dispensers are reliable and retro-cool to some, although their designers apparently never contemplated a future with $125-a-barrel oil.

"We're one of the few that are left," said Sharon Hammett, owner of Piney Point Market in St. Mary's County in Maryland, who said her customers are mostly local watermen. "If it gets too bad, maybe we'll just pull" the pumps out, said Hammett, unnerved by a recent TV program with apocalyptic predictions of $8-a-gallon gas.

About 8,500 of the 170,000 service stations in the United States are using mechanical pumps, according to the Petroleum Equipment Institute, a trade group based in Oklahoma. Most are in out-of-the way rural areas or at marinas, and not, said executive vice president Robert N. Renkes, "in the middle of downtown Washington."

Regulators in Virginia and Maryland take a dim view of the obsolete machines, no matter how quaint their surroundings, if the spinning numbers don't accurately reflect what's going into gas tanks.

Osborne has run afoul of the rules in the past. When gas prices went beyond $2.99 a gallon, she posted a printout of the day's gas prices and divided the per-gallon price on the pump display in half, notifying customers that the cost would be doubled at the cash register. Some of the Latino laborers who work on nearby farms had trouble understanding the system at first, she said, but eventually got used to it.

It was an out-of-towner, she suspects, who turned her in to Virginia's Weights and Measures Association. She paid $800 for a kit to give her pumps the extra digits and gears to go from $2.99 to $3.99.

And now, they're nearing obsolescence. Osborne said she called a service station supplier last week thinking she would be able to upgrade with another kit, but she was told there was nothing available. State regulators don't seem to be in a sympathetic mood, either.

Robert Bailey, program manager for Virginia's Office of Product and Industry Standards, said that it's a matter of consumer protection. "I think any savvy business owner would have recognized early in the year that gas prices are rising, and there are companies that provide services to renovate or replace analog pumps with digital ones," he said.

At least one company is working on a conversion kit that will allow the pumps to go above $3.99. But orders are backlogged for months.

That's why some pump owners have given in and shelled out the money for a digital upgrade.

"You're either gonna sell gas, or you're not," said Greg Fauver, owner of Gore Grocery. He spent several thousand dollars to install computerized displays on the six pumps outside his small market north of Winchester. He figures he spends more on electricity for the pumps than on the gas they dispense, but, he said, "They're a draw for the store."

For the companies that sell, service and install gas station equipment, it has been difficult to keep up with demand.

"Some of these mechanical pumps have been unchanged since the late 1940s and early 1950s," said Luke Neff, sales manager for Service Station Repair in Winchester. "I just don't think when they were built that anybody fathomed the price of fuel being what it is today." Neff said his company sells a basic replacement pump for $3,000 to $4,000, plus installation. That doesn't include upgrades that might be needed.

"It's unfortunate that a lot of mom-and-pops are getting squeezed out," he said. "But they're not doing enough volume to afford to upgrade their equipment."

Those who frequent Osborne's store said Orlean would be losing more than a business if she goes under. The town is a mix of blue collar and blue blood, where several wealthy residents have estates and country homes and the oldest farmers remember the days when they harvested hay with horses and sickles.

Orlean has a firehouse, a post office and a flower shop, but Osborne's market is the only regular meeting place in town, selling everything from imported beer and the New York Times to night crawlers and "Guttin' Gloves" for deer hunters. There are goose eggs at the deli counter, ice cream cones for the kids and snapshots tacked to the wall showing smiling locals with slain black bears and trophy bucks.

"We'd be in bad shape if we didn't have that market," said Doug Scott, a retired builder who moved to town five years ago. Like a lot of locals, Scott goes to the market every day -- even if he's not shopping. "You walk in there," he said, "and there'll be a Washington lawyer next to a farmer who's deaf from working next to machines all his life."

"Out here," he said, "the only way to see people is passing them on the road or at the market. There's an isolating element to living in the country that the market overcomes."

At least Osborne has a new venture -- a recently opened all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant -- if the pumps go dry.

"I've got a passion for people and cooking, so I love what I'm doing," she said. "But I don't know what these people would do if they didn't have this store."

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 01:14:02 PM »
CNN finally scraped together a few words about the Saudi freakout:

Quote
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices surged nearly $3, reaching a record high of almost $128 a barrel Friday as Saudi Arabia rejected President Bush's call to increase production.

According to the White House, Saudia Arabia doesn't see enough demand to increase production.

President Bush met with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Friday as part of his Middle East tour to appeal for greater production to help quell crippling fuel prices.

Crude began to rise earlier in the day after traders foresaw a jump in diesel fuel use following the earthquake in China and Goldman Sachs revised its price outlook sharply higher.

U.S. crude for June delivery was up $2.96 a barrel to $127.08 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, crude hit $127.82, topping the previous intraday record of $126.98 set Tuesday. Last Friday, oil closed at a record $125.96 a barrel.

"Everything the market looks at is bullish," Peter Beutel, an oil analyst at Cameron Hanover, wrote in a research note Friday.

Traders fear that the rebuilding after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked southwest China Monday - and killed more than 20,000 people with tens of thousands of others still missing - will lead to a sharp increase in diesel fuel use, the Associated Press reported.

Diesel fuel has been in tight supply for the last several months following a cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and as the popularity of diesel cars grows in Europe and the developing world.

With diesel prices outpacing gasoline, refiners in the United States have been ramping up production of diesel and sending it abroad. That has displaced some domestic gasoline production, helping push gas prices higher.

Also contributing to Friday's oil price spike: analysts at the investment bank Goldman Sachs boosted their oil price predictions for the second half of the year from $107 to $141 a barrel.

"Supply constraints continue to push crude prices higher," Goldman analysts wrote in a research note Friday.

But the bank noted that despite the high prices, the global economy - and by implication, the demand for oil - continues to grow.

"The dire macroeconomic impact from the current oil shock has yet to materialize," the note said. 

What is not reported is the deal that the Saudi's are refusing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/world/europe/31weapons.html

Quote
WASHINGTON, July 30 — The Bush administration said Monday that its plan to provide billions of dollars in advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel over the next 10 years was intended in part to serve as a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.

The "oil for guns" proposal is actually thanks to the Democrats in Congress. 

Quote
WASHINGTON - A group of Democratic senators on May 13 threatened to block a multibillion dollar U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia unless the kingdom ups oil production and helps cut soaring gasoline prices.

The Senators introduced a resolution of disapproval on the arms sale as President Bush prepared to head for Saudi Arabia, partly on a mission to contain runaway oil prices.

"We are saying to the Saudis that, if you don't help us, why should we be helping you?" said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "We are saying that we need real relief, and we need it quickly. You need our arms, but we need you to cooperate and not strangle American consumers."

The resolution, expected to be fast-tracked to the Senate floor, would prohibit the mammoth arms sale unless Saudi Arabia agrees to increase oil production by one million barrels per day.

Schumer said such an increase could bring down the price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump by 50 to 75 cents.

"We're losing our wealth. Our economy is heading south. That is the highest priority, not the Saudis getting the top-notch weapons," Schumer said.

The U.S. offered last year to sell Saudi Arabia and Gulf states a $20 billion arms package, as part of a wider regional program aimed at deterring Iran and Syria, Lebanon's Hezbollah and al-Qaida.

The resolution specifically mentions a sale of 900 kits to Saudi Arabia, which turn conventional bombs into laser-guided explosives or Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM).

Schumer said a motion of disapproval needed only 51 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass and could not be filibustered.

Bush was heading to the Middle East on May 13, for a tour which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the formal establishment of U.S.-Saudi relations.

The White House has said he will stress U.S. concerns about soaring oil prices when he meets King Abdullah on May 16 and is expected to press the Saudis to boost their oil production as a way of curbing spiraling fuel prices.

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2008, 04:30:19 PM »


Quote
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The government said Friday that it would halt deliveries to the strategic oil reserves in July.

In another volatile day of oil trading, crude prices retreated about $2 a barrel from a record high near $128.

The U.S. Energy Department announcement comes several days after Congress voted to direct the Bush administration to stop the shipment of oil to the emergency reserves.

The Bush administration has been filling the reserve since 2001, boosting the reserve from about 540 million barrels to 702.7 million, enough to protect against a disruption in imports for about 58 days, said Barnett.

Barnett remained skeptical of the halt's effect, saying deliveries to the strategic reserve accounts for "less than one tenth of one percent" of the oil on the market.

"The amount of oil put in the SPR last week... we trade that in less than one minute," said Tom Kloza, the Oil Price Information Service's chief oil analyst.


Offline Tatertots

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2008, 05:28:12 PM »
Timewarp!

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A03E4D71030F93BA15755C0A9669C8B63&sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Quote
Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.

“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 05:36:04 PM »
Ho, ho.  Very nice.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 06:20:06 PM »
So, teh Saudi's say not enough demand, but I'm still about to pay $4 a gallon?

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2008, 07:54:07 AM »
So, teh Saudi's say not enough demand, but I'm still about to pay $4 a gallon?

It's an oil crazy media putting words in their mouth.  What's really happening behind the scenes is the weird shitheel modern day cousin of detente politics.  The Saudi's need guns and money because they're in trouble, and looking forward to a vacuum in Iraq that will bring an antagonistic Iran to their borders.  Everyone's gearing up for an epoch-ending war, and it'll be the mega bucks that oil brings in that'll name the winner.

Demand?  RC -- with Exxon reporting tens of billions in profits every quarter, you wonder if there's demand?  The American and European oil companies are the only corporations succeeding these days -- and in with appallingly large profits.  Impossibly large.  That doesn't raise a huge question mark?

The countries supplying the oil make ten times what those oil companies make in profits.  They're not only charging for the oil, but also owners of the land that the infrastructure is on.  So oil profits and landlords.  The oil companies are paying them tremendous amounts.  They're able to build the tallest buildings in the world...in fact, they're able to build new worlds!  Look at that Dubai nonsense.

Those little pocket countries like Dubai have no worries, though.  The Saudis are looking to internal and external conflict.  They can't afford to lower the price of oil because we're about to pull out of Iraq, one way or another.  Even McCain is hedging on his former Hitlerian thousand year war thinking.  And a now nuclear Iran, and Syria, can and will step in. 

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2008, 07:55:40 AM »
Meanwhile, the quiet bear:
http://iht.com/articles/2008/05/15/business/energy.php

Russia has considerable oil reserves.  Putin's new focus on the energy sector can easily make Russia self-sustaining and insanely wealthy from the exports.  A year is wishful thinking...but five years of heavy duty infrastructure building and exploitation and Russia will have plenty of money and power in oil, easy.

Quote
MOSCOW: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his new energy czar, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, have gone on the offensive to battle claims that Russian oil production is in drastic decline.

Amid a shake-up in the government that is expected to alter the dynamics within the Russian energy industry, Putin and Sechin have in recent days been pledging support to stimulate oil production.

The subject is a sensitive one in Russia, where the two state-controlled energy giants, Gazprom and Rosneft, maintain a notorious rivalry in seeking state assistance for their expansion ambitions. Large fields from eastern Siberia to the far eastern shores of Sakhalin Island have not yet been allocated.

The industry's outlook is also crucial for Russia's geopolitical ambitions, as the Kremlin wields its vast energy resources, rather than missiles, as in the Soviet days, to project its clout in Europe and beyond.

"You think oil production is declining?" Sechin said during an interview with Interfax on Wednesday, a first for the secretive former Kremlin insider who was thrust into the spotlight with his cabinet appointment this week. "Let's wait until the end of the year. I'm sure there won't be a decline, but an increase instead."

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2008, 09:51:16 AM »
But what about the Spices?
There will come a day for every man when he will relish the prospect of eating his own shit. That day has yet to come for me.

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2008, 10:50:21 AM »
(the spice must flow)
"If it were up to me I would close Guantánamo not tomorrow but this afternoon... Essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system... and it's causing us far more damage than any good we get from it."

-Colin Powell

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2008, 10:50:50 AM »
I will kill him!
</Sting>

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2008, 09:22:42 AM »
Load your shield.

</Picard>
There will come a day for every man when he will relish the prospect of eating his own shit. That day has yet to come for me.

Offline nacho

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Re: Black Gold
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2008, 10:47:09 AM »
Random stuff from The Oil Drum:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4089

Car companies dream of a war where we need lots of tanks:

Quote
GM finally steps up
Under fire, the automotive giant will unveil its plan Tuesday for coping with $4-a-gallon gasoline.
By Alex Taylor III, senior editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- In opera, it isn't over until the fat lady sings. In the auto business, it isn't official until General Motors opens its mouth.

That day comes Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware when embattled GM (GM, Fortune 500) chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will explain to shareholders just how the automaker plans to survive the changes sweeping the industry.

Observers from Tokyo to Toledo will be paying close attention.

Automakers are going through an unprecedented two-dip depression in the U.S. Not only is the subprime crisis and the attendant economic slump driving sales to a 15-year low. But also, expensive gasoline and looming federal and state fuel economy standards have sent panicked consumers fleeing from their pickup trucks and SUVs, which are very profitable for Detroit, into low-profit or no profit passenger cars.

Late to catch this trend as usual, General Motors and Ford (F, Fortune 500) are frantically rewriting their product plans for the next dozen years to account for changing standards while they try to prop up sales of their current model lines in the short term.

Meanwhile, there is chaos at the nation's dealerships. Light trucks aren't selling so they are sitting in inventory. Owners aren't buying because they either can't sell the truck they have or can't get the price they need in order to afford the down payment on a new one. Other customers, who took advantage of easy credit terms a year or two ago, are failing to make their monthly payments and getting their vehicles repossessed.

Ford stepped up the plate first. Twelve days ago, it announced production cuts, the accelerated introduction of more small cars, and continued shrinkage of the company. Along with that came the news that it couldn't make the auto business profitable in 2009 as it had promised, and then later, that its U.S. market share would fall below the level that it had targeted.

Expect GM to announce much of the same production cutbacks and shifts in product emphasis on Tuesday. It won't be as specific about future earnings as Ford because it got out of the guidance game a couple of years ago.

One area where GM is expected to strut its stuff is in alternative fuels. The company was early to the party - some say too early - in building a battery-powered car and developing fuel cells. Now both of those technologies have been put in the shade by gas-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

GM leads Ford and Chrysler in gas-electric hybrids, but that's a race among the lame and the halt. In terms of commercial success, it can't match Toyota (TM) or even Honda (HMC).

But you can expect GM to thump its chest a bit over the plug-in Chevy Volt that it plans to get to the market by end of 2010. The Volt can run about 40 miles on a charge of electricity, and several hundred miles beyond that when its auxiliary gasoline engine kicks in. But at a rumored price of as high as $40,000, the Volt will be good for bragging rights, and not much more.

Tuesday's meeting could be Wagoner's chance to finally assert himself as the leader of both his company and the industry. As GM has piled up enormous losses and suffered from an array of troubles that go well beyond its slumping car sales, Wagoner has been all too willing to stay in the background.

The strategy backfires when other step forward to take credit for initiatives Wagoner has put in place, such as his declaration in 2006 that GM is determined to be the industry's technology leader. Or when GM stock collapses to a multi-year low, and it is a lead director, not Wagoner, who has to step forward and calm investor fears.

Now, when there is so much confusion in the market place and among investors, is the time for Wagoner to step up, create a vision for the months ahead, and suggest how GM and the rest of the auto industry are going to meet this looming challenge.

In a way, his timing couldn't be better. Expensive gasoline is pushing American consumers in the direction they've been resisting for 30 years - toward more fuel-efficient automobiles. It is up to Wagoner to explain how GM plans to profit from this overdue change. And do it forcefully.