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Rising Gas Prices

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Have you ever gotten angry because you go to fill up your car with gas and it costs 50¢ more per gallon than it did a few days ago? Every year drivers across the nation experience this sharp increase in the price of gas like clockwork as summer approaches.  As summer nears, gas prices rise in response to the increase in demand from vacationing Americans and other tourists. With so many people driving, the demand rises, so it becomes more expensive. However, the recent rise in prices goes beyond the usual summer supply and demand.  Gas prices are rising due to environmental concerns as well as government taxation.

Whether you believe in the greenhouse gas and rising temperature data or not, fracking for oil and burning oil is bad for our environment.  We know this. This is, in part, the reason behind the push to sell hybrid and electric car technology. To promote these cars and preserve the environment, oil corporations have agreed to cut down on their production of crude oil; oil pumped from the ground.  According to the Mercury News, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has kept a tight lid on output following a recent deal to extend oil production cuts. OPEC agreed to cut oil production in November 2016 and that’s had a slow-rolling effect on prices going into 2018. In addition, declining production in Venezuela, which is being roiled by political and economic turmoil, has contributed to the price spike. Since the prices have spiked, even though they are cutting production, oil corporations are still making the same, if not more, profits.  This has given oil companies the ability to buy better, more efficient, equipment and hire more workers so as to conserve and better use the current oil supplies, meaning less oil goes further; less oil equals better for the environment.

The price of a barrel of crude oil is the largest factor in determining the price at the pump; the more the barrel of crude costs, the more you pay at the pump. Currently, the price of a barrel of crude oil is currently at $68.57, the highest it has been since December of 2014. If the price per barrel continues to climb so to will the price of consumer gasoline and diesel. Slowing production of crude oil does help the environment, but in doing so, the ones who suffer the most are the ones who have to pay for increased prices at the pump.  Don’t fret, however, it is all part of the master plan to get people to “go green” and buy “green” cars — hybrids and electrical ones — which drops the price people have to pay for gas. However, until everybody “goes green,” those still driving all gas vehicles are going to suffer as the demand for gas increasingly goes beyond the supply. However, helping the environment and changing the supply and demand landscape isn’t the only thing increasing consumer gas prices.

States are getting in on the action by taxing gasoline, and an increase in these taxes is increasing the price at the pump.  For example, the state of California insists on placing a tax of $0.467 per gallon; nearly 50¢ per gallon. You know the gas stations are not going to pay for that out of their pocket, so they raise the gas prices by 50¢ and tell you to blame your government. According to USAtoday “Gas price increases can add hundreds of dollars to household costs… undermine discretionary spending and virtually kill these households as contributors to gross domestic product beyond their purchase of basic daily needs.” The increase in fuel prices hits the lower to middle class households the hardest, which limits their spending on everything else which in turn slows the other areas of the economy. This is happening in all states, it is just that in California, and other western states such as Washington and Oregon, the prices get even higher than the rest of the county, reaching as high as $4/gallon in some areas.  Currently, California drivers are experiencing the worst prices since 2008, which reached close to $4.11 per gallon. However, while taxes on gas by states are raising gas prices, it is those taxes that pay for better roads,which, in turn, increase fuel efficiency. Another government addition to California gas prices is its standards for clean gas. It may not be a tax, but it government imposed.  Cleaner burning gas costs 5 to 15 cents more per gallon to produce than regular gas and has added 5-8 cents for gas prices at the pump since 1999. This has proven to be a heavily cost-effective way to reduce air pollution.  So, even the taxes and government imposed standards are helping the environment.

Although gas prices are soaring at least a you can feel better about it in part because it is helping our planet. However, for those who can’t afford to think about saving the world, summer vacations are now going to be even harder to afford with the current gas prices, not just in California, but throughout the nation. With the demand on gas ever rising, crude oil no longer in production, and the state tax on fuel, it’s no wonder gas is so expensive. Low income families will be affected by the rise in fuel prices the most and not be able to buy barely anything aside from bare necessities.  So, if you can, go buy a hybrid or an electric car, the money you save on gas will practically pay for the car. As Elon Musk says, “The reality is gas prices should be much more expensive then they are because we’re not incorporating the true damage to the environment and the hidden costs of mining oil and transporting it to the U.S.” If we included the damage to the environment in the price per gallon of gas, only billionaires could afford to drive.

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WORKS CITED

 

California Air Resources Board. “Cleaner-Burning Gasoline: An Update.” California
    Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, California Government,
    www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/gasoline/cbgupdat.htm.

Graff, Amy. “Average Gas Price in California Predicted to Hit $4 a Gallon.” SFGate,
    San Francisco Chronicle, 2 May 2018, w.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/gas-prices-summer-2018-
    rise- San-Francisco-average-12881150.php.

May, Patrick. “Here Are Five Reasons We May Soon Be Paying $4 a Gallon for Gas.” The
    Mercury News, Bay Area News Group, 2 Feb. 2018,
    www.mercurynews.com/2018/02/01/here-are-five-reasons-we-may-soon-be-paying-4-a-
    gallon-for-gas/.

McIntyre, Douglas A. “Sign of a Pricey Summer? Gas Prices Climb above $3.50 in Several
    Major California Cities.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 30 Apr. 2018,
    www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/04/30/gas-prices-top-350-some-california-cities
    /563894002/.

 

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