Give Me Alternative Energy, Just Don’t Make Me Pay For It!

It’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to find viable alternative energy sources.  Whether it’s for economic reasons – not having to send hundreds of billions of dollars to unstable countries – or environmental reasons – not dumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – the time has come to kick our oil addiction and move towards clean, renewable alternative energies.

But, how are we going to pay for this research and transition, and who’s going to foot the bill?

One of the most commonly kicked around ideas is to raise the federal fuel tax from 18.4 cents to something a little more substantial.  After all, this would be an easy way to help wean people off gasoline and at the same time help fund billions of dollars for alternative fuel research.

(Click here to read about my plan to raise the fuel tax to 50 cents.)

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t count on this rational idea coming to fruition any time soon, because whenever the phrase “tax increase” is uttered, people tend to lose their minds and politicians tend to lose their jobs.

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A 10% Drop in Gasoline Use Would do a lot of Good

On many occasions on this site I’ve stated that just slightly decreasing the amount of gasoline you use will add up over time and really make a difference, for both your finances and the environment. While it certainly is pretty cliche, it’s nothing but the truth. While the idea behind this post is fairly obvious, the actual benefits implementing the idea might not be.

For example, if Americans were to decrease gasoline consumption by just 10% – which can be done any number of ways: by being a better driver, keeping up on car maintenance, trading in a gas guzzler for a fuel sipper – we could save billions of dollars per year and keep massive amounts of greenhouse gases out of the environment.

Let me explain a little further:

On average, Americans consume about 386 million gallons of gasoline each day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to just under 141 billion gallons of gas. That’s a lot of gas, and is by far the highest number of any country in the world.

If people were able to reduce their fuel consumption by just 10% – which, again, is very easy to do – we would save 14.1 billion gallons of gas each year.

With the current national average price for a gallon of gas sitting at $3.78, this reduction in gasoline usage would equal a total dollar savings of over $53 billion. To put that in perspective, this total is about 1/3rd of the Government stimulus package that was supposed to help jump start the economy.

In addition to the massive amounts of money we would save, there would also be a significant reduction in the amount of damage we do to the environment.

Each gallon of gasoline that we burn releases roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is widely believed to be one of the main contributors to global warming and the “greenhouse effect.”

By reducing fuel consumption by just 10%, we would keep 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. While I have no idea whether or not this would make a significant dent in global warming, it certainly can’t hurt. (I’m sure someone will be kind enough to leave a comment telling everyone what effects a reduction of this magnitude would have on the environment. Hint, hint.)

So, back to the original premise, if Americans were able to reduce their gasoline usage by only 10%, we would save billions of dollars and help save the environment. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Thanks to higher gas prices, Americans have already begun to drastically reduce the amount of miles they drive, and have started to trade in their gas guzzlers for more cars with better fuel economy. Hopefully, that means we’re well on our way to getting to this 10% reduction – if not more.

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