Sustainable America Blog

Americans Spent Record Amount on Gasoline in 2012

A report released last week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed that American households spent close to 4% of their pre-tax household incomes—that’s an average of $2,912 per family—on gasoline in 2012.

“This was the highest estimated percentage of household income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar amount,” the EIA said.

Even though overall gasoline consumption is down due in part to more fuel-efficient vehicles, higher prices at the pump are offsetting those gains, according to the report. In other words, we’re using less gas, but paying more for it.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed people filling up at an Exxon station near the nation’s capital, where gas prices were $4.49 a gallon for regular gas. Anne McKenna, a lawyer based in Baltimore whose family spends up to $150 per week on gas, said she and her husband have started taking turns driving the more efficient car, depending on who is driving farther.

The graph below shows that the previous record amount was just below $2,750 in 2008. The average cost of a gallon of gasoline in 2012 was $3.70 according to the EIA, up 30% from 2010.

Source: [EIA](

Source: EIA

The high price of oil is tied to volatile global markets, and millions of average Americans are feeling the pinch. Sustainable America wants to reduce oil usage for transportation in America 50% by 2030. We aim to do this by increasing use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, advanced biofuels and electric vehicles. We believe that energy independence is critical for the future of America, and reducing reliance on oil for transportation is a central aspect of achieving domestic energy security.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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