Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gas Math

Recently I’ve heard many people who pull their big, gas-guzzling SUV’s up to the gas pump complain about the high price of gas. I decided to do a little math:

(All numbers are rough estimates. Any errors in math are entirely someone else's fault. I welcome any corrections or suggestions)

There are roughly 300 million people in the U.S.

Let’s be conservative and assume that there is one car for every four people. That means on any given day there are about 75 million cars on the road.

Let’s further assume that each car is driven an average of 10 miles per day (again, being conservative). That means on an average day, Americans drive 750 million miles.

The amount of gas required to drive 750 million miles is about 30 Million gallons. This is based on a mileage standard (that is, average MPG of all cars sold in the U.S.) of 25 MPG. This is also assuming that the cars on the road today meet that standard, on average.

It takes about 1.49 gallons of crude oil to make one gallon of gasoline.

There are 55 gallons of oil in a standard barrel. That means that each barrel of crude oil can make about 37 gallons of gas, on average.

That further means that Americans, just through everyday driving, consume, on average, nearly 811 thousand barrels of oil. Every. Day.

Yesterday (2/19/08) the price of oil closed at over $100 a barrel. That means that we as Americans pay 81 MILLION dollars EVERY DAY simply for the gas we consume through everyday driving. That adds up to nearly 30 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

Congress has recently enacted legislation requiring the federal cafe standard to be raised to 35 MPG--in the future.

Now consider this: Suppose the Federal MPG standard was 35 MPG NOW. That means Americans would use only about 21.4 Million gallons of gas each day in everyday driving. Applying the same math used above, that means about 579,150 barrels of oil. That’s nearly 232,000 FEWER barrels of oil per DAY! A savings of nearly 23.2 MILLION dollars a day, or OVER 8.5 BILLION DOLLARS per year!

We, as Americans, could save EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR if the national mileage standard was 35 miles per gallon. Think what we could do with an extra EIGHT BILLION dollars every year…

And, of course, that’s just by changing our personal vehicles. Imagine if they were able to do the same for every vehicle on the road.

I must repeat again that this is very rudimentary mathematics, and I did very little research (mostly having to do with how much oil to make a gallon of gas). I also did it in about 15 minutes. Think about the figures a professional number-cruncher could come up with if given more exact figures and more time…

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