We, as Americans, are an undeniably mobile society. We commute to work, we drive to the grocery store, we travel hundreds or thousands of miles to visit family. And in the summer months, our love of travel is even more evident. For Americans across our vast nation, summer brings family vacations, trips to the pool and the beach, and visits with friends and family.
In December, the former president of Shell Oil predicted that Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012 as global demand for oil increases. As forecasted, the global demand for fuel has continued to rise, reaching the current level of up to 87 million barrels per day. That number is expected to pass 88 million by the end of the year. The upsurge in global oil consumption reflects both a significant increase in demand from China and the gradual recovery of international markets.
But that fundamental feature of American life is being threatened by skyrocketing gasoline prices. With the average price for a gallon of gasoline currently at $3.848, Americans are spending 11% of their paychecks on fuel—compared to the average of 8%. The hike in gas prices has left Americans with less disposable income, forcing them to make hard choices about where and how to cut back. For some, it means spending less on non-essentials, for others it means taking public transportation. For everyone, it means paying around $340 million more per day this year as compared to last year for the same amount of fuel, just to get to work and carry out our daily lives.
Unfortunately, as we approach the summer months that bring a spike in fuel prices each year, the gas prices are likely to continue soaring. But how high will they climb?
Today, with the continued unrest in the Middle East pushing gas prices perilously close to $4 per gallon, the $5 per gallon prediction seems all the more possible. The current month-long streak of climbing gas prices is rooted in the disruption of the crude oil supply from Libya and the uncertainty of supplies from other unstable countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
According to analysts, as long as the situation in the Middle East remains unresolved and global demand for crude oil increases, prices will continue to rise.
We cannot remain idle while events outside our control dictate American gas prices. We must end our costly overreliance on foreign oil. We can do this by increasing our domestic fuel production, improving the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, intensifying our renewable energy development, and cutting our fuel usage. I have been fighting for these goals by supporting legislation that aims to increase our nation’s energy independence and gets gas prices under control.
As part of that fight, I have reintroduced the New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, which lays out a comprehensive, common-sense solution to the nation’s pressing need for energy independence. The New Manhattan Project aims for the U.S. to reach 50% energy independence in 10 years and 100% energy independence in 20 years by establishing specific and attainable energy goals that change the landscape of energy production in America.
These game-changing goals include:
- Doubling the fuel efficiency of cars to 70 MPG while keeping vehicles affordable, making America the global leader in energy efficient vehicles, and bringing vehicle manufacturing jobs back to the United States;
- Cutting home and business energy usage in half, saving consumers billions of dollars in energy costs; and
- Producing reusable electricity through nuclear fusion, helping to create more jobs for research and development.
It’s time for America to get into the driver’s seat when it comes to gas prices. I want you involved in this discussion. Here’s how:
1. Follow my “Gas Price Watch” blog posts. For the next few weeks, I will be updating my blog with weekly posts on gas prices. Sign up to follow these discussions, as well as others, using my RSS feed. This week I posted Frequently Asked Questions regarding gas prices. Take a look at this post, which answers questions such as:
- What factors affect the price of gasoline?
- Why have gas prices fluctuated so much in recent years?
- How much tax do we pay on a gallon of gasoline?
2. Join the discussion on my blog. I want to hear your thoughts, concerns, and ideas when it comes to rising gas prices. Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at the correlation between jobs and energy prices, the effect of rising gas prices on small businesses, and the impact of energy prices on national security. Follow these discussions and weigh in with what you are hearing or reading and your comments on proposed legislation.
3. Take my instaPoll on how gas prices are impacting your financial decisions. To spark our discussion, I’ve sent out an instaPoll asking how the price of fuel has directly impacted your life. Take a look at the results here, or weigh in here if you haven’t already done so.
4. Share your ideas about gas prices on my Facebook page. I’m posting several times a week with questions and ideas on gas prices on my Facebook page. Look for the “Gas Price Watch” icon and join the conversation.
Energy will be one of the critical factors that determines our economic recovery as well as America’s future. I want you to be a part of this discussion by sharing your thoughts, concerns and ideas. I look forward to hearing from you on this critical issue.