Once again, and for reasons that are often unclear to the public, gas prices are rising weekly.
What can we, as a country, do to become less dependent on foreign oil?
What can we, as consumers, do to ease this burden, and potentially prevent prices from rising outrageously? One of the primary concerns when gas prices rise too quickly is if they will level off while the consumers can still afford to drive their vehicles.
Another concern involves prices failing to level off soon. Will this have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy?
According to the Anchorage Daily News, economists are not yet concerned that the current rise in prices will have an impact on the U.S. economy at this time. It points out that when gas prices rose significantly about a year ago, “the squeeze was really put on the household budget of many Americans. We spent less on clothes, food and everything else.”
I am not necessarily comforted by the fact that it is not yet time to worry.
We often hear talk these days about alternative energy sources.
The general consensus is that any transition from oil as the primary energy source, to renewable energy sources such as solar power or wind, is many years away.
Since it appears that the U.S. is going to be depending on oil for many years, what can we do to become less dependent on foreign oil?
There are often rumors involving oil reserves underneath our own country.
One of the most prevalent of these concerns the Bakken Formation, underneath the Dakotas and eastern Montana.
The rumor that tapping into this large formation would completely remove our dependency on foreign oil is simply not true.
But tapping into it should be considered as possibly one piece of a larger long range plan for our independence in this area.
Another part of the nation that often arises in this discussion is Alaska.
There are both pros and cons for drilling there.
The pro is obvious; the more oil that we produce and keep for ourselves, the less we need to import.
This would lessen dependency and possibly lower prices somewhat.
The various negative aspects involve problems such as pollution of the area and effects on animals of the region due to the underground explosions that are needed to penetrate deep into the earth.
Native Alaskans who depend on these different animals for food could be endangered.
“To reduce our dependency on foreign oil is to simply use less of it, starting with the cars and trucks that we drive. Nearly 70 percent of our oil use is for transportation, and more than 65 percent of that amount is for personal vehicles,” Nobel Physicist Steven Chu said.
In addition to this, he states that we need to develop various liquid biofuels that will someday replace our current gasoline and diesel fuel.
In my opinion, this is a critically important part of our long range planning as a country.
So, how do you and I reduce our fuel consumption, as Chu suggests? There are numerous ways by which this can be achieved.
One of the more obvious would be driving a vehicle that is more fuel efficient.
It would be quite helpful if the federal government mandated better fuel economy standards.
Other ways to conserve fuel include avoiding high speeds and using cruise control in the car whenever possible.
Other possibly less obvious ways to improve fuel economy include lessening the overall weight of the vehicle by keeping unnecessary items out of the trunk and keeping the vehicle in good working order with regular tune-ups.
Also, keeping tires properly inflated is a good way to improve fuel economy.
Finally, simply changing bad driving habits can save at least 10 percent of fuel consumption.
Bad driving habits include aggressive driving and tailgating, which often involve having to hit the brakes frequently, and thus followed by hitting the gas pedal.
It certainly appears that we the consumers can do quite a bit to reduce our personal fuel consumption and therefore our nation’s dependence on imported fuel.