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Americans keep hitting the highway and guzzling fuelPosted Monday, June 11, 2012, at 12:03 PM
Well, it's a sad commentary to think we believe that it's welcome relief to see the price at the gas pump in Linton drop to $3.47 a gallon for unleaded regular Monday morning.
Whoever thought we would be happy with gasoline at more than $3 a gallon when the first summer I was legally licensed to drive a gallon of gasoline cost me a whopping 26 cents?
I remember the days of near $5 fill-ups, so the high cost of gasoline continues to anger me, even if it is dropping.
The saga of the gas pump fright has been taking too big of chunk out of all of our pocketbooks for several years now.
Some, including myself, like to call gasoline pricing as "legalized robbery" as the United States government seems content to sit back and watch the nation's consumers struggle as they trickle a few gallons of high-priced fuel into their vehicle tanks.
Americans, myself included, have an unquenchable thirst for gasoline.
Just look at the amount of traffic on roads and highways.
Americans drive nearly 3 trillion miles per year, according to the Motor and Equipment Manufacturer's Association.
That's about 820 trips from the sun to Pluto and back.
Fuel is a major part of everyone's personal budget and why on earth we are not tapping into the federal oil reserves more, I will never understand.
There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to pricing.
I've also noticed that when the price of crude oil drops, it takes much longer for the price at the pump to reflect the cheaper price than when it rose when the cost of a barrel of crude oil went up.
Also, can anyone intelligently tell me how gasoline is sometimes 10 cents a gallon cheaper in Linton than in Bloomfield and other parts of Greene County?
Reuters News Agency reports that the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States fell 15.9 cents to $3.624 in the past three weeks due to a drop in crude oil, which took a hit from fears over Europe's economy and a stronger dollar, the Lundberg Survey showed.
The national average for regular gasoline as of June 8 was down more than 11.62 cents from the year-earlier level of $3.74 a gallon, according to the survey of some 2,500 gasoline stations in the continental United States.
The price was the lowest since the Feb. 10 survey, which recorded an average of $3.51 per gallon.
Nationally, prices peaked at $3.967 on April 6 and have been falling ever since, down 34.28 cents, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.
However, when I visited southern California in early April the cheapest gas I saw anywhere was $4.39 a gallon and most of it was in the $4.79 to $4.89 gallon range.
The average price of a gallon of diesel has also fallen by nearly the same amount, down 30.61 cents over the past nine weeks.
The lack of a viable alternative to personal driving is certainly a problem in a rural county like Greene County that has no organized public transit system -- either bus or train, like in other areas of the nation.
If we have to get anywhere, we probably have to drive some sort of a vehicle.
We can look at the autobahn in Germany. With gas prices twice ours, Europeans still drive. Fast.
But they also drive smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, walk and bicycle more and plan their car trips more to avoid driving to buy only a quart of milk.
They eat out less frequently and cook their own meals more frequently.
They tend their own gardens more.
In general, they probably prioritize better and smarter as well as riding on the bus or train system when possible.
So I guess we should just be happy that both gasoline and diesel prices are lower than they were this time a year ago.
It could be worse.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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