I’ve seen gasoline as low as $2.27.9 per gallon around town … nearly half what it cost at its peak.
Back when it was still up near $4.00 / gallon, I had someone ask me if would go back down. I said I thought it would, but we’d probably never see $2.50/gallon gas again.
I’m thrilled to be wrong. Spectacularly so. There are reports of some areas of the country where gas is selling for $1.99.9. How great to be able to fill up for $40 rather than $70.
Still, there was a graphic in “USA Today” this morning that showed that the national average price for gas is almost exactly where it was this time last year. So the entire run up to $4/gallon boomed and busted in a year. All of the talk about offshore drilling and windfall profits taxes for about 9 months of extraordinarily volatile oil and gas prices. In that short a time, apparently Russia and Venezuela used projected oil revenues to balance their budgets like it was never going to go down. I think anyone who watched housing prices over the past couple of years could have figured that out. But instead we’ve had gas prices be central to the presidential campaign, emergency meetings by OPEC on the way up and the way down, emergency legislation by Congress, a complete re-tooling of the auto industry, thousands out of work in that industry because of slow SUV sales … it’s really very amazing.
Now don’t get me wrong. I hope that the $4/gallon prices this summer were enough of a scare that gas being half that price makes people think it’s OK to buy massive SUV’s and cremate as many dead dinosaurs as possible. I don’t begrudge anybody the right to buy any vehicle they want … but is this Hummer REALLY necessary? Meanwhile, I still think we should drill offshore as part of an overall energy strategy. Yes, we should be developing solar, geothermal, wind, renewables, and nuclear. We can’t drill our way out of the energy problem, but since that’s the technology we have now that we know how to do … then drill we must. It’s not the only answer, but it needs to be part of the answer.
But my biggest fear is that if gas is cheap(er) again, people, lawmakers, and which ever administration is incoming will declare the crisis over and nothing will be done.
From the hinterlands, don’t let the next year be like the previous 40. I think there’s no question that, if we don nothing like we have so often in the past, that we’ll be thinking of $4/gallon gas as “the cheap gas”.
So, let’s hope this summer of our discontent serves as our wake-up call. Park the giant SUV or pick-up truck, or at least drive it a lot less. Develop and energy policy that makes sense. Don’t assume that a 9% profit margin by the oil companies is “obscene” and insist they pay higher taxes. Think it through for a change, and develop a policy that makes sense for consumers and business and the environment. It might require some sacrifice on our part, and it might not be the easy answer, or the one that fits into your narrow political rhetoric … but it might actually result in a solution that works.