When Americans drove up to the pump to refill their tanks this week, they didn`t find any relief from prices that have risen sharply over the past few months. The average retail price of fuel across the nations is now over $3.78 per gallon, with many cities seeing prices higher than $4.00 per gallon.
President Obama, at a speech this week in New Hampshire, had this to say to the crowd:
“Most of you filled up your gas tanks in the last week or two, am I right? You`ve see the prices go up almost every day and you`ve already felt the pinch. Some of you have no choice but to drive a long way to work. And higher gas prices are like a tax straight out of your paycheck. And in the winter, the rising price of oil is also making it more expensive to heat your homes.”
Yes, that’s right – oil prices are up too, causing non-drivers to feel the fuel price-pain as well. Driving is expensive, heat is expensive, and many wonder when prices will drop, if ever. Will record-high fuel prices be the rule from now on, or will Americans see relief?
Conservatives tout increased drilling as the answer – remember their call to “drill, baby, drill!” in the last election. The GOP still claims that more offshore drilling, and the Obama administration`s reluctance to allow it, is the reason for high gas prices. Obama addressed this sentiment in his speech, saying –
“We can`t just drill our way to lower gas prices. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets. If somebody tells you there are, they`re not telling you the truth. The biggest thing that’s causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East. Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will rise is because of growing demand in countries like China and India and Brazil.”
So what does Obama propose to do about increasing gas and oil prices?
- End tax breaks that subsidize the oil industry. “Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars subsidizes the oil industry every year. Every time you fill up your gas tank, they`re making money. I am asking Congress to eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away. Let`s put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people.”
- Obama has also set standards for the oil industry. By 2025, new vehicles will be required to average almost 55 miles per gallon – nearly twice what is required today. He says this change will save the average American family more than $8,000 a year in gasoline spending.
- Last but not least, he pledges to curtail American dependence on foreign oil. “I`m going to continue to do whatever I can to develop every source of American energy – to make sure that three years from now our dependence on foreign oil is even lower, to make sure that our future is not controlled by events on the other side of the world.”
Whether these plans end up making a difference to consumers, or whether they turn out to be just more hot air, one thing is certain – gas prices aren`t going down anytime soon. In the meantime, consumers would do well to find ways to take the sting out of high fuel prices, such as using a good gas rewards card. Getting the best rewards you can, driving a fuel-efficient car can help see Americans through until relief is in sight.