What a Gas! The U.S. Government and Exploding Gas Prices

 

 

What Are Gas Prices Now?

Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update
This site from the U.S. Department of Energy is updated on Mondays with current prices and percent change over the last week and the last year for each region of the U.S..  Historical data is available from the "Retail Gasoline Prices" and "On-Highway Diesel Prices" links at the bottom of the page.

Weekly Retail Gasoline and Diesel Prices
http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm
 
State of Illinois Gas Price Monitoring
http://www.illinois.gov/gasprices/
This site contains yesterday's average prices for various grades of gasoline and diesel in individual Illinois communities, as well as linking to commercial sites where individual gas stations' prices are listed.  Other sections of the site have information on conserving fuel and on public transportation options.
 
Illinoisgasprices.com
http://www.illinoisgasprices.com/
This commercial site allows searching for individual gas stations within an Illinois community and sorting them by price.

Why Are Gas Prices So High?

Gas prices : how are they really set? : hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee of [sic] Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Seventh Congress, second session, April 30 and May 2, 2002.
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS22796 (727 page PDF file; DOC. Y 4.G 74/9:S.HRG.107-509 for print version).
Most of the witnesses at this congressional hearing were either oil company executives or state officials, although there were a couple of economists from academia.  The exhibits include statistical charts as well as reports from congressional staff and internal oil company documents about price determination and marketing.
 
A Primer on Gasoline Prices
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS56212
The U.S. Department of Energy published this booklet about the factors that affect the price of gasoline and the reasons for fluctuations in gas prices over time and between regions.
 
Understanding the Factors That Influence the Retail Price of Gasoline
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS61962  (62 page PDF file)
The Government Accountability Office published this detailed report on the factors that affect the price of gasoline, as well as why prices vary between regions and over time.
 
Crude oil : the source of higher gas prices? : hearing before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Eighth Congress, second session, April 7, 2004.
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS57008  
Economists, industry representatives, and consumer advocates testified at this hearing about one potential reason for the rise in gas prices.

How is the Government Trying to Help?

Investigation of Gasoline Price Manipulation and Post-Katrina Gasoline Price Increases
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/05/katrinagasprices.htm
The Federal Trade Commission issued this extensive report in May, finding that oil companies did not illegally manipulate gas prices after Hurricane Katrina.
 
Fact Sheet: President Bush's Four-Part Plan to Confront High Gasoline Prices
http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/04/20060425-2.html
President Bush issued this plan to ensure fair gasoline prices, increase fuel efficiency, increase the supply of gasoline, and develop alternatives to oil-based fuels.
 
Gas Price Reduction Act of 2006
This is one example of the many bills that were introduced in Congress to address the causes and impacts of high gas prices.  To find other bills on this subject, search at http://thomas.loc.gov for terms like "gasoline price" or "energy."
 
IRS Announces New Mileage Rates
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=151226,00.html
The Internal Revenue Service has increased the mileage reimbursement rate for federal employees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Many other governments and private businesses base their reimbursements to employees on this rate.
 
Gasoline Prices: New Legislation and Proposals
http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/69485.pdf (15 page PDF file)
This report was written in May by the Congressional Research Service to summarize the many ideas that have been talked about in Congress and put them in a historical context.
 
Senators Introduce Legislation to Reduce Gasoline Consumption by Half a Trillion Gallons
http://obama.senate.gov/press/060719-senators_introduce_legislation_to_reduce_gasoline_consumption_by_half_a_trillion_gallons/index.html
This press release from Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) describes a bill he cosponsored that would reduce the U.S.'s dependence on oil.  The full text of the bill and a link to its progress in Congress is here.
 
Mitigating the impact of high gas prices on the American workforce : hearing before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization of the Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, first session, November 16, 2005.
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS70155  (92 page PDF file)
The witnesses at this hearing talked about telecommuting, flexible schedules, and public transportation as ways to reduce the impact of high gas prices.
 
Gasoline Price Gouging: hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senate, One Hundred Ninth Congress, 2nd Session, May 23, 2006
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-109shrg71812/pdf/CHRG-109shrg71812.pdf
This hearing brought industry representatives and consumer advocates together to discuss the rise in gasoline prices and the possibility that gas prices are being artificially manipulated.

What Can I Do?

Fueleconomy.gov
www.fueleconomy.gov
This web site helps consumers to find fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles as well as giving tips about maintenance and driving habits that increase miles per gallon. 
 
Personal Vehicles Initiative
http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportation/personal-vehicles-initiative.cfm
This is the Canadian perspective on responsible auto ownership, maintenance and driving, from Natural Resources Canada.

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