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Large Numbers of Law, The Price of Gas

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49.3% - Oil consumed in the United States in 2010 imported from a foreign country.

60.3% - Oil consumed in the United States in 2005 imported from a foreign country.


20% - US Energy Information Administration projected increase of domestic oil production by 2020.

38% - EIA's projected oil consumed in the United States in 2020 imported from a foreign country.


2003 - Most recent year with higher domestic oil production than 2011.


$3.26 - Average price of a gallon of regular gas in December 2011.

$2 - GOP's projected price of gas if Alaska was opened up for drilling.

1% - Actual increase in global oil production if Alaska was opened up for drilling.


A 1% increase in oil production isn't going to cause a 39% drop in prices. It may have a greater than 1% effect, if it is able to reduce some of the instability-markup. Being generous, let's call it a 5% reduction in prices.

If when you go to the pump, you buy 12 gallons at $3.26, you will spend a total of $39.12.

Using our generous impact of Alaska drilling, you would instead by 12 gallons at $3.10 for a total of $37.20.

Total savings per fill-up: $1.92.

$4.25 - Price of a venti Starbuck's latte (prices vary by location).

$2.25 - Price of a venti Starbuck's regular coffee.

$2.00 - Savings from replacing one latte with one regular coffee. $.08 greater than savings from drilling for more oil in Alaska.


26 - Toyota Camry combined MPG

27 - Honda Accord combined MPG

29 - Honda Civic combined MPG

50 - Toyota Prius combined MPG

A more fuel efficient car doesn't change what you pay per gallon at the pump, but it does change how much you have to buy at that price.

Back to the original scenario, you're buying 12 gallons at $3.26, spending a total of $39.12.

If you switched to a high fuel efficiency car, you might instead buy 7 gallons at $3.26, for a total price of $22.82.

Total savings per fill-up: $16.30.

If you go to Starbuck's once a day, including weekends, replacing your latte with a regular coffee would not be enough to create the same savings.


Also, a more fuel efficient car does change what you pay per gallon at the pump. Prices are a product of supply and demand. Higher demand means higher prices. Contrariwise, lower demand will reduce prices, and lower consumption is lower demand. A 40% decrease in consumption would have a far greater impact on prices than a 1% increase in production.

[Politifact on domestic oil consumption]

[Politifact on $2 per gallon gas]

[More Large Numbers of Law]

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