America’s Addiction to Gasoline
By: Samantha Ruiz
Ah, petroleum. Used in everything from lipstick to motor oil, crayons and lubricants, oil is one product the world can’t seem to get enough of. The United States especially, which consumes around 21 million barrels of oil a day, seems to have quite the addiction to this precious resource. Essential for the creation of products and by products that we use everyday, oil can be refined into an array of products. However, Americans seem to prefer theirs in the form of gasoline. In fact, the United States consumes more gasoline than South America, Europe, Africa and Asia combined.
It is obvious that our country is heavily dependent on this amber liquid, however, our fixation with petroleum is heavily due to the governmental policies put into place over the years. Consider a nation with minimal efficiency requirements, poor public transportation and low fuel taxes and you have the perfect environment for a gasoline obsession.
As opposed to other countries like Denmark, where high taxes on purchases makes driving less appealing, the United States has few obstacles to impede our gas guzzling habits. While the unheard of $4 per gallon of gasoline may have come to a shock to you in 2008, citizens in other countries have been paying at least that for years. All throughout Europe higher fuel taxes equal gasoline prices in the range of $8. Whereas in the United States, lower prices have encouraged habits that only increase gasoline consumption.
On the other hand, the government has also inadequately funded public transportation. New highway construction receives 80 percent of federal funding, while new public transportation projects receive only 50 percent. With other nations are switching to alternatives like high-speed rails, it is time to realize our addiction and gain control of a resource that has been exploited and is now hurting our economy and national security.
Policymakers should be focusing on plans that include cutting foreign oil use by at least 5 percent to slash our current imports tremendously. Importing foreign oil sends 1 billion per day to other countries instead of investing this money domestically.
Ending tax loopholes for oil companies is a critical as well. Congress needs reexamine priorities and stop giving tax subsidies to the oil industry. Currently, these subsidies will cost the government about 3 billion next year and nearly 20 billion over the next five years.
However creating policy that transitions and invests in clean, efficient vehicles and transportation needs to be first and foremost to end our dependence on oil. By modernizing our transportation infrastructure and providing alternative transportation choices a new market is born. One that will create jobs and save current consumers thousands of dollars that will restore our current economy and redefine the industry entirely. __________________________________________________________________________________________ 1. Cleaner Cars, Less Foreign Oil, Center for American Progress, 2011
2. Is the United States addicted to gasoline?, Discovery, 2011
3. Petroleum Basic Statistics, Energy Information Administration, July 2008
4. Motor Fuel Taxes, Energy API, July 2008
5. Where Does My Gasoline Come From? Energy Information Administration, April 2008