Hardly a day goes by without another new article or car owner talking about the price of gas. Gas prices have been climbing for decades now, but recently it’s gotten out of hand. With growing tensions between America and the Middle East and gas guzzling SUVs in vogue, prices rose to $2 a gallon in Maine during 2004. Yet even these prices would be welcome after prices rose to $4.00 a gallon in some places after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. All oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, a major source of U.S. oil, and all of the numerous refineries in Louisiana, which process most of the oil from the Texas fields, have been shutdown in the hurricane’s chaotic aftermath. With clean up time in New Orleans projected to last months, it looks like it might be a long time before output is back to normal, if it ever is.

Free gasoline aid and reserve releases from oil rich countries like Venezuela, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and The European Union has been enough to avoid a major crisis like the one the U.S. saw in the 70’s, but not enough to avoid the worst for some people. With a crisis like this comes price gouging, that’s (sadly) just the way it is. But what does all this mean for us at Leavitt? Almost all of us grew up, wanting our own car and to be freed from the bus, but as more and more people find this a reality, the less and less affordable it becomes. Most high schoolers work for minimum wage or a little above. So if you drive a truck (13 miles per gallon highway) or even a little car (25 mpg highway) the bills add up, fast. When Hurricane Katrina first hit, Andy Starr drove a truck, but since then he’s been downgraded to a 4-cylinder Mitsubishi Eclipse. “I only drive to school on Fridays,” says Michelle Hiltz. “My mom won’t let me drive as much since gas prices have gone up.”

Though gas prices have fallen to about $2.67, we aren’t out of the woods yet. It is inevitable that something will cause gas prices to rise again, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next year, maybe today or tomorrow, no matter when it will happen. We all have to bend the will of the price, too. Every American, in one way or another, is dependent on oil. Perhaps if Katrina teaches us anything, it is that we must find a better fuel so that nothing like this, or something worse, happens.

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