The Physics
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Price of Gasoline

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Roark, James, Johnson, Michael, Cohen Patricia, Stage, Sarah, Lawson, Alan, Hartman, Susan. The American Promise. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998. $0.10–0.90/liter
(US 1972–1986)
Gas Prices: Price in Perspective. CNN, April 2006. "Yet when taking inflation into account, drivers are paying less today than they did in the aftermath of the Iran hostage crisis -- in March 1981, a gallon cost $1.41, or $3.12 in 2005 dollars. Motorists in the United States are also paying less than many of their European counterparts." $ 0.37/liter
(US 1981)
(US 2006 equivalent)
Weekly US Retail Gasoline Prices, Regular Grade. Energy Information Agency, 6 June 2006. $0.76/liter
(US 2006)
Table 5.24 Retail Motor Gasoline and On-Highway Diesel Fuel Price, Selected Years, 1949-2004 [pdf]. Energy Information Agency, 2004. [redacted data table] $0.16–0.50/liter
(US 1976–2004)
Lou, Joel. Weekly Retail Premium Gasoline Prices (Including Taxes). Energy Information Agency, 6 June 2006. [original large data table] $0.34–1.90/liter
(US & EU 1996–2006)

Gas prices of today (2006) have reached seemingly astronomical levels. People are now feeling the pinch in their pockets as gasoline prices have reached record levels.

One reason for the rise can be attributed to the war in Iraq, which caused a drop in gasoline imports from Iraq. Another purported reason is Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which damaged drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005. Also, political instability in countries such as Nigeria and Venezuela, leading oil producers for the United States, leaves us in a hole for oil.

The highest national average before the recent years was in 1981 when it peaked at $0.37 per liter (about $0.83 in 2006 dollars). According to the Energy Information Agency, a Department of Energy funded organization, the national average per liter of gas is $0.79 as of May 21, 2006. This is 21 cents more than the price in 2005.

In the United States, fifty-four percent of the price that is paid comes from the price of crude oil. The crude oil is then refined by the companies that sell the gas. Twenty-six percent of the price is from this. Add three percent for marketing and shipping costs. The final seventeen percent in the US is taxes. When the price of any of the first three components goes up, so too does the tax. When you take your full tank of gas, and it costs fifty dollars, know that almost ten dollars is going to the government.

In comparing the United States prices of gasoline to the prices in Europe, our gas is relatively inexpensive. The prices in some countries in Europe in June of 2006 are as follows: Belgium $1.67 per liter, France $1.63 per liter, Germany $1.66 per liter, Italy $1.70 per liter, Netherlands $1.87 per liter, UK $1.77 per liter.

Scott Schechter -- 2006