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Why Does Summer Bring Higher Gas Prices?

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change
May 27, 2013
USA Today

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It's a national ritual: As the summer heat rises, so do gasoline prices, squeezing people at the pump. With U.S. oil production skyrocketing, though, it's tempting to hope that relief from high prices might be around the corner.

Alas even if the United States became energy independent, gasoline prices would probably stay high. The best way to cut our country's costs is still to slash the amount of oil we use.

There's no question that U.S. oil production is booming. Last year saw the biggest one-year gain in U.S. oil output since the birth of the industry in 1859, and most experts predict more of the same to come. Yet you'd never know it from your gasoline bill: a gallon of gas cost about 15 cents more in 2012 than it did in 2011.

What's going on? Surging U.S. oil production is creating jobs and wealth from North Dakota to Texas to Ohio, and not just in the oil industry. New manufacturing jobs in steel and cement are helping support development; people working in restaurants and hotels and shops are also seeing benefits as new money flows into their regions.

But the one place we shouldn't count on big consequences is the price of oil. The world continues to consume more every year, as people in China, India and beyond increasingly demand more fuel, putting pressure on oil prices. And oil production is still dominated by big players like Saudi Arabia whose governments depend on selling the stuff to stay afloat.

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