American Dependence on Foreign Oil
As Americans, we are dependent on our cars to get us from point A to point B. Before gas prices hit four dollars a gallon, no one was concerned where the oil came from as long as it was there and we had an unlimited supply available. Today, the demand for oil is so high that domestic production cannot keep up. Now we are forced to seek oil from foreign countries. The problem now is that the economy, being as it is, has forced the price per barrel to go up, in turn making the price of gas go up. With the dramatic rise in gas prices, the American people have started to change habits in order to save a penny here and there. Even businesses have to make adjustment in order to keep a workforce. Will the high price of gas change the American way of life?
Today, the United States is the largest consumer of oil in the world. On average, the United States consumes 20.7 million barrels of oil a day (EIA, 2008) but we are the world’s third largest producer of oil (EIA, 2008). The United States produces 5.1 million barrels of oil a day and 3.6 million barrels from various other sources but there is a 13.5 million barrel shortfall (EIA, 2008). This information allows us to conclude that the United States produces 10% of the world’s oil but consumes 24% (EIA, 2008). The United States is 42% independent on energy but the remaining 58% comes from foreign countries (EIA, 2008). What is interesting is that 49% of the oil imported into the United States comes from the western hemisphere, not from the Persian Gulf (EIA, 2008). The United States only receives 16% of its oil imports from the Persian Gulf (EIA, 2008). The Largest foreign source of oil for the United States is Canada and Mexico (EIA, 2008), but it seems any negative news from the Middle East raises gas prices. This is disheartening considering gas prices have gone up 104.8% in the last year (EIA, 2008).
There is little doubt that the increase in gas prices will affect the American way of life. As Americans, we love to drive and we love to drive huge gas guzzling SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles). With the increase of gas prices, Americans have started to change habits in order to pinch that penny. One of the biggest changes is the amount of miles we as Americans drive. In June of this year, Americans drove 12.2 billion less miles compared to June of last year (Doggett, 2008). The decrease in the amount of driving has made the demand for oil drop by 800,000 barrels a day (Doggett, 2008). While Americans are driving less, they are also looking for transportation that is more efficient. In the automobile market, SUV sales have continued to drop while car sales have increased because of better gas mileage (Doggett, 2008). In a recent survey, 79% of those who responded said they were going to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle (What to do about gas prices, 2008). Have you ever considered getting a scooter? Many Americans have. Scooters are cheap costing from $1,500 to $6,000 while getting 75 miles per gallon (Dilonardo, 2008). Scooter sales have increased 24% in the first three months of this year (Dilonardo, 2008). The only drawback, the humiliation of actually driving one, but it seems many people are swallowing their pride in order to save some money. The increase in car sales, drop in SUV and truck sales, and the increase in scooter and motorbike sales are not the only social change that is effected directly by the high price of gas. In a congressional hearing, it was determined that the high price of gas directly contributed to the increase use of public transportation (Millar, 2008). Americans took 2.8 billion trips on vehicles that are for public transportation in the second quarter (Millar, 2008). That is an increase of 1.5 million trips per day or 140 million more trips compared to last year during the same period (Millar, 2008). According to the testimony, a person whom uses public transportation...
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