We can all help ease the burden at the pump

By Staff
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest Columnist
You don’t need to have a great memory to recall a day when a gallon of gas cost less than one dollar. In fact, it wasn’t as long ago as you may think.
In August 2001, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in Alabama was 96 cents. Today that price has skyrocketed to a statewide average of $2.855. Right now, a gallon of gas is almost three times the amount it was six years ago, double the amount it was in May of 2003, and 40 cents higher than just last month.
Factors such as another hot dry summer, a predicted active hurricane season and worldwide financial and geopolitical instability can only mean one thing: we’re in for another expensive summer at the pumps.
While gas prices continue to climb nationwide, Alabama is feeling the increases much less than many of our sister states. In fact, state gas prices are still roughly ten cents below the national average of $2.955.
The main reason gas prices are so high is due to our nation’s dependence on foreign sources to provide us with oil. As we’ve learned over the last few years, international dependency makes us vulnerable to events beyond our control.
It is imperative that we as Alabamians, and as Americans, wean ourselves off our dependency on foreign oil. One way our state government is helping do that is through the research and development of alternative fuels. A few weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill that establishes a Center for Alternative Fuels.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Thad McClammy, a Democrat from Montgomery. It establishes the duties of the center in promoting the development of the use of alternative fuels in Alabama. Rep. McClammy has championed efforts to use alternative fuel for several years now.
The bill further provides that the center will act as clearinghouse for federal funds that are available for alternative fuels projects, thus ensuring that our state’s researchers have adequate funds to make Alabama a leader in the field of alternative fuels.
Alabama needs to be at the forefront of this change, whether it’s producing energy or ethanol from corn, sugarcane, switchgrass, vegetable oils, or wood chips. In addition, alternative fuel won’t just ease the burden at the pump, it can also create thousands of new jobs. This makes the need for funding alternative fuel research more imperative than ever.
While our state government and scientists are working to turn these possibilities into reality, a completely energy independent Alabama is still several years away. In the meantime, there are things that we can all do to conserve our use and dependency on oil.
A great way to help is by conserving gas, and we could all do less driving. For example, consolidate trips and errands. Find one location where you can take care of banking, grocery shopping, and other chores. Carpooling is another effective way to save gas. Forming a carpool group not only saves gas by consolidating passengers, it also offers an opportunity to split the price when you do have to fill-up.
Another way to ease the gas price problem is by comparison shopping. Websites such as www.alabamagasprices.com provide a search engine to help find the lowest price in a specific area.
The website also lists the 10 highest and lowest prices throughout the state, and allows users to report local prices anywhere in the state. Even if you don’t have access to the Internet, you can comparison shop by either telephone or through newspaper advertisements.
Gas prices will probably never go back to a quarter per gallon. But by developing alternative energy sources, lessening our dependency on foreign oil, and doing our part to limit wasteful gas usage, maybe we can help bring a day when $3 per gallon seems like a bad memory, not a good one.

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