June 4, 2008, - 12:14 pm

Schlussel Auto Industry Source: U.S. Gas Usage Levels Down to 1974 Levels

By Debbie Schlussel
We already know that rising gas prices are affecting the American economy in many far-reaching waves, from rising food prices to more businesses going out of business.
But a auto industry source of mine tells me that Wall Street financial analysts, with whom he consults on the auto industry, say that America’s gas purchasing and usage in autos is down to 1974 levels.
If accurate, that’s an especially drastic change since:
* At that time, there was an oil embargo and gas was scarcer and rationed (odd numbered and even numbered license plates allowed gas only on alternate days); and


* America now has far more cars on the road–geometrically far more.
Will gas hit $7 a gallon by early 2009, as some are predicting? Don’t count it out.
Sadly, our own leaders counted themselves out, by doing nothing to:
* Develop alternative fuels and energy sources; and
* Push for oil drilling offshore and in Alaska.
Like diamonds, the price of gas is artificially high because, for once, OPEC countries are actually finally keeping their anti-competitive agreements to limit production. If we drilled offshore and in Alaska, it would likely bring down the price a great deal.
And if only we could get a President that is serious on these issues, rather than lip service while he counts his future Saudi and other Gulf State contributions to his future Presidential Library.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal also claimed that aside from China’s growing use of oil, it steeply increased its use of gas (and, also, hoarding of diesel, too) in its endeavor to put on the Olympic Games–making the price for the rest of us climb even higher. Yet, another reason I hate “The Games.”

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10 Responses

And this is all going on before the election. Think how much worse it will be after the election.

c f on June 4, 2008 at 1:07 pm

As far back as 2001 Bush had his Energy Seceratary (Spencer Abraham) and Interior Secretary (Gail Norton) urged congress to authorize drilling in the Alaska preserve ANWR. Congress has to authorize ANWR for drilling but as far back as 2001 Congress and the American voters who voted for their congressman have said no to any drilling on American soil.
So, then everyone complains when President Bush goes to Suadi Arabia to ask for increases in production.
In 2007 the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) received its first applications to build nuclear power plants in 30 years. America’s last Nuclear power plant was completed in 1996 but took 23 years to build. How fast has America’s population grown since then? But in Dec 2007 Congress voted to keep nuclear power subsidies out of the energy bill.
But thankfully Congress did include requirements for the production of non-corn based ethanol in the Dec 2007 energy bill.
So,if the American Congress and the American people are against producing oil on their own land why does everyone get upset when they see the price of oil go up? Don’t you think high oil prices are good? High oil prices are good for the environment, they get people to drive less and get rid of suv’s for Priuses. Ethanal is good because it makes farmers richer and they are good lobbiests. Why do you think Byran Dorgan is so powerful on Captial Hill?
Oh, and while American won’t drill for oil in order to save the environment the Chinese are getting busy. Cuba is hiring Chinese companies to drill near Key West. In 1977 President Carter helped create and and Economic Zone Act that gave these areas to Cuba.
So, if you are upset at high gas and energy prices look at the Congressmen you vote for.

PrincessKaren on June 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

I drove a Pontiac Lemans in the mid Seventies. It was a near 300 horse power muscle car, and I couldn’t have cared less about gas prices.
The Russians are taking advantage of post Ice Age warming, to stake claims on the Artic shelf. Note: the high north is largely a desert but was tropical for millions of years. Geologists are aware that deserts generally mean: oil deposits underneath. The Canadian north is lake-ridden – ask the Ice Road Truckers – thus, the country is somewhat dependent on the Alaska Pipeline. A quick agreement with Russia, etc on northern protocols is a must.

supercargo on June 4, 2008 at 2:12 pm

The American citizenry are such dupes. We have been kowtowing to the environmental wackos since the early Clintonian era. I agree with a prior commentor – why are people whining about high gas prices? Look at the greedy, self-centered, elitists we have voted into office. We get what we deserve. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a national leader stand up and say: “We ARE going to drill in ANWR, off the coasts, and in the Dakotas because there is 8 times more oil there than the entire Saudi inventory. We are going to demand the following: a 5-year plan for building a new refinery (not 10), a five year plan for developing and delivering true, fuel efficient cars and trucks (new diesels are best), and a 10 year plan for building new nuclear reactor power plants – all with MAJOR tax incentives, not increases. Environmental responsibility is paramount and should be closely monitored however, “global warming” would be removed from the lexicon as a tax sham. The day after making such an announcement, the price of a barrel of oil would drop to half its current value (where it belongs). Finally a message would be sent to all the environmental wacko groups to please go to China, India, and Russia to protest where the real pollution is occurring. Lastly, any legislators not supporting this would be required to explain why they do not support national security, why they do not support the American economy, and why they wish to raise taxes instead of private revenues. It’s not rocket science – just common sense, capitalist free market thinking and good old American patriotism.

FreeAmerican on June 4, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Just saw governor of Montana (a Dem) on TV yesterday. He says that there are 40 billion barrels of oil in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. That’s equivalent to 10 years of imports. And, he says that Montana has enough coal to supply the US for 60 years. In fact, there’s virtually an unlimited supply of coal in the US, which we are currently exporting to China, which brings a new coal-fired power plant on line every 2 weeks.
Of course, the Dems (and some Republicans) want to carbon cap our way to poverty and increase the outflow of dollars to Saudi, Iran, and Venezuela.

sonomaca on June 4, 2008 at 4:26 pm

1) Drill in ANWR. The caribou will adapt.
2) Drill off FL, CA & anywhere else there’s oil in US territory. The tourists will adapt.
3) Build new oil refineries, and stop requiring dozens of different blends for different states, seasons, etc.
4) Ramp up the coal-to-diesel conversion process that the Germans developed before WW II. If the Huns could do it then, we can do it better/faster/cheaper/more environment-friendly now.
5) Build nuclear plants to replace hydrocarbon burners. If the French can use the atom, it ought to be safe enough for even a leftist greenfreak.
6) Keep researching ways to make “shale oil” and other currently uneconomical sources economically plausible.
7) In addition to all this, keep researching new energy.
If I post this enough times/places, maybe the message will spread…

DocLiberty on June 4, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I have mixed feelings about the rising cost of fuel. On the one hand, the reaction to ever rising fuel costs is to cut back consumption – on a personal level as mentioned in Debbie’s report – or – as necessary in industries such as airlines –
Aviation Nation Fuel Frustration
My family has made a conscious effort to defund the jihad by consolidating our errands as much as possible and replacing our gas guzzlers with 30+mpg vehicles.
But that alone doesn’t wean us off the ME teat. If rapidly rising price of oil is the only means to encouraging responsible behavior modification – i.e. growing demand for energy alternatives, then so be it.
If the science isn’t caught up with demand, then open a pressure release valve – and Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less is Newt Gingrich’s effort to open up domestic drilling options.
To alleviate environMental concerns:
The Environmental Benefits of Offshore Drilling
” the Central Arctic caribou herd is at home with pipeline facilities and has grown from 3,000 to as high as 27,100 in the last 20 years. Drilling activity in ANWR would be limited to winter months when wildlife does not frequent the coastal plain.”
ANWR = 30 years of Secure Oil & Gas Supplies

heroyalwhyness on June 4, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Sorry – none of the links in my comment came through. Sigh.

heroyalwhyness on June 4, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Debbie, you’re advocating two things that are opposed to each other. If we drill in Alaska to get more gas, the price of gas will come down for a while, and the incentive to develop alternative energy will drop.
If you think the government can handle it, just look at ethanol. That WAS the alternative fuel they chose to dump money into, and it didn’t do us a bit of good.
The only way you’re going to get an effective alternative energy source is if a private company invents/discovers one, and the only way they’re going to do that is if there’s enough money in it to make the risk worthwhile.
The problem is that even at $8 a gallon, gasoline is still very efficient compared to other energy sources we have now. Just look at European countries to see how much people will buy gas for.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to drill for more oil. If we have it, use it. Just don’t expect anyone to develop any new cheap energy sources if we do.

LibertarianBulbasaur on June 5, 2008 at 12:35 am

Had to add one more thing, especially after I read LibertarianBulbasaur’s comments…. the idea for drilling, refining, and building (Nuke Plants) is to provide major tax incentives to invest. The investment includes research and development, alternative energy sources, massively increased MPG options, etc. The timeline to do so includes building and operating within half the time, demonstrating and/or introducing results of R&D to the public. If objectives are not met, tax incentives are calibrated to increment or decrement based on level of attainment. That is what one would call a business case…. something the gubmint knows absolutely NOTHING about.

FreeAmerican on June 5, 2008 at 10:54 am

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