The constant whining in this country about the price of oil, and particularly about the price of gas at the gas station, is really pathetic to watch. Americans have about the cheapest petrol in the world, at least in the developed world, due largely to the lack of political will in this country to put a tax on gas commensurate with its effects on the environment.
Look at the prices of petrol in some other countries (prices often differ within countries, depending on location, but these figures represent the last ones i saw on visiting each of the countries in question):
Australia: $A 1.00/litre, or in US terms about $2.00/gallon
Canada: $C 0.80/litre, or just over $2.00/gallon
England: 70-80p/litre, or well over $4.00/gallon
(US figures based on approximate current exchange rates)
And don’t even get me started on the prices in Europe.
ITR champion mentions the possibility of drilling in Alaska. This would not only have little effect on the price of gas in the US, but the following statistics show that there are ways in which this country could save at least as much oil as would be gained by new drilling.
Gallons by which daily U.S. oil consumption would drop if SUVs’ average fuel efficiency increased by 3 mpg : 49,000,000 Source: Sierra Club (Washington)
Gallons per day that the proposed drilling of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is projected to yield : 42,000,000 Source: The White House
Both of these are from Harper’s Magazine, April 2001, online at: http://www.harpers.org/harpers-index/listing.php3? sub_date=2001-04-01
where the Sierra Club states that “Increasing the fuel efficiency of automobiles is the biggest single step the United States can take to reduce consumption of fossil fuels”, pointing out that more than 40% of US oil use goes to fill cars and trucks.
The statistics regarding the gas saved by more efficient SUVs versus the gas gained through drilling in Alaska point to another solution. As well as making SUVs more efficient, the government could begin to treat them as normal cars in terms of taxes etc, thus encouraging the 80-90% of SUV owners who have no need for a four-wheel drive vehicle to trade them in for something more fuel efficient and less obnoxious on the road.