The Memorial Day long weekend is coming up, and you’ve probably noticed that gas prices have leveled off from their high prices a few months back. In fact, prices are now 20 cents per gallon lower than they were a year ago.
Whether you’re going to the beach or to the mountains (or maybe a place like the Vermillion Basin), the break at the pump couldn’t have come at a better time for many American families.
With all of the recent debate about drilling and gas prices, you may be wondering why gas prices suddenly calmed down after weeks of steadily climbing higher and higher. Was it the oil companies feeling guilty about their windfall profits? Was a large swath of America opened up to drilling?
Nope – the answer comes from overseas, where a calming Middle East has also calmed Wall Street speculators that had been driving up the cost of oil. The tensions in Iran were adding up to $25 to every barrel of oil (even the ones drilled here in the U.S.) – and those costs were passed on to us, the consumers.
What does this leveling off of gas prices tell us? Well, for starters, the U.S. can’t control gas prices. A study by the Associated Press showed that more drilling won’t lower gasoline prices. And now a study from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows that swings in gas prices happen regardless of how much oil a country produces. Even if we drilled every drop out of ground that we could, the global marketplace would still control the price of oil (which is tied to the price of gas at the pump).
So how do we avoid these wild price swings and keep our wallets safe? The answer comes from a surprising source.
The George W. Bush Institute (yes, that George W. Bush) says we need to move away from oil. A report from the institute calls for better fuel efficiency for cars and trucks as a way to protect the country from economy-destroying swings in the price of oil.
The only way to protect our wild lands from drilling and our wallets from high gas prices is to move away from oil. The oil industry certainly isn’t doing anything to help American consumers – and they clearly don’t need the help.