US petrol is artificially cheap  

Posted by Big Gav in

Grist has a look at the unreasonably low price of petrol in the US - U.S. gas is artificially cheap: What we don’t pay for at the pump.

What's the true price of gasoline? This animated feature from the Center for Investigative Reporting explores the "external costs" of gasoline use in the U.S. -- including pollution and the health problems caused by it. ...

California has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Consequently, it has some of the strictest rules for gasoline, meaning it burns cleaner than it does in many other states. But cleaner fuels are more expensive.

Clean air requirements, combined with supply and refining constraints, make the price of California gas consistently among the highest in the nation. Turmoil in the Middle East is another factor that pushes up the global price of crude oil. Even though the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California fluctuates around $4, some experts argue that $4 a gallon is much less than the real cost.

Compared with other industrialized countries, the U.S. has it cheap. The Economist notes that American consumers pay about half of what Europeans pay, which is up to about $8.50 per gallon (or $2.25 per liter). The media website Good has a nifty chart showing the disparity in prices across the Atlantic, and PBS' NewsHour explains the effect Middle East turmoil has on the retail price of gas. While politicians on both sides of the aisle bicker about why gas is expensive, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-N.M.), is one who explains the real reasons, and as David Roberts notes, he is lonely in doing so.

Even though reducing toxic chemicals in gasoline might make it more expensive, the EPA argues that clean air provides long-term cost benefits. A recent study of the Clean Air Act showed "the public health and environmental benefits ... exceed their costs by a margin of four to one."

From 1990 to 2010, these regulations have prevented "23,000 Americans from dying prematurely, [and] averted over 1,700,000 incidences of asthma attacks and aggravation of chronic asthma." In the same two decades, it also prevented more than 4.1 million lost workdays due to pollution-related illnesses.



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