Gas Pains - Cause and Effect
- China's demand for oil grew 41% over the past four years, while total world demand grew by about 8%.
- Refiners are starting to mix more fuel with ethanol instead of MTBE, an additive that is blamed for causing groundwater pollution. Ethanol tends to be more expensive than MTBE. This is mandated by congressional legislation.
- Since the 1990s, the FTC has engaged in multiple gas-price investigations, but it has yet to find a case of price manipulation. The last major investigation, which was in 2001 after gasoline in the Midwest was priced at about 30% more than the national average, found that the high prices were primarily a product of refinery production problems, pipeline disruptions, low inventories and high crude prices.
- Congress passed an energy bill that included as much as $5 billion in tax breaks for oil companies. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates oil companies will receive at least $10 billion in total tax breaks over the next five years.
- In 2001, the average U.S. family drove about 5,700 miles commuting to and from work, up from about 4,900 in 1990. Commuting made up the largest share of total vehicle miles traveled in 2001. Social and recreational travel made up the largest share in 1990.
- An average American spends about 14 hours a year mowing the lawn, compared with about 375 hours driving. An average lawn mower uses about four gallons of gasoline a year. An average American driver uses about 500 gallons of gasoline a year.
- As gas prices increase, many gas stations also report an increase in gas theft. Gas theft costs gas stations an estimated $237 million in 2004 -- about one of every 1,100 fill-ups -- up from well under $200 million in 2003.
The rhetoric and blame game over fuel cost demonstrates a complete lack of responsibility by elected offiicials. Opportunities to enhance energy self-sufficiency has been around for decades but U.S. citizens have been paid lip service by politicians.
Citizens have voted for many politicians for years without challenging them to do better. Do we go to the polls ignorant of the activities and voting records of career politico's? American consumers are at fault for their poor habits too. We want what we want, driving gas guzzling cars, buying our children cars and failing to demand more efficient vehicles and effective mass transportation alternatives.
Bloated government and selfish consumer habits are as much to blame for current gas prices as world markets and the growing demand for oil in China and India. Change is difficult but we should demand more from ourselves and more from elected officials.
Source of Data: The Wall Street Journal