Gas Prices: Green Energy and Alternative Transportation

Written By:

Jenna Reiber

Publishing Date: 

November 13, 2022

Since early spring of this year, gas prices have steadily been rising, even reaching a record high of $5 per gallon in certain states in June. Many factors lead to this spike in gas prices including multiple oil pipelines being shut down in 2021 due to spills or cyber attacks, as well as the war between Russia and Ukraine in 2022. The increase at the pumps has certainly caused a bit of distress for many consumers. Due to the outcry from many Americans, the government has taken steps to decrease these prices through tax suspensions and holidays. This, along with the decrease in oil prices themselves, has led to a steady decline in gas prices and an average below $4


Still, as NBC and others have noted, gas prices can easily spike again – leaving the common American with feelings of unease. A look to green energy and alternative transportation will provide a solution to these gas price woes. In fact, President Biden’s administration has set out in their new infrastructure bill to promote green energy and electric vehicles with a promising tax credit for buyers. 


Green energy, as defined by the EPA, is “renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the greatest environmental benefit.” This refers to electricity that is produced by solar, wind, or small hydroelectric sources. Investing in green energy can aid in the climate crisis by limiting our carbon dioxide emissions. This definition of green energy also means that there is an alternative to these rising gas prices. 


Alternative transportation is another avenue in supporting green energy that provides an answer to the problem of gas price volatility. Examples of alternative transportation include hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles (EVs), and public transportation. Developing and utilizing these alternatives over the next five years can have a positive impact on reducing oil prices and lowering carbon dioxide emissions, which will help in fighting the climate crisis. Saving costs on fuel is not the only benefit of alternative transportation. They also create more jobs, “improve accessibility to reliable, affordable transportation, and enhance energy security and independence with less reliance on foreign sources for fuel’. The current administration has also promoted the purchase of EVs by creating a tax credit for those who own EVs. Alternative transportation could allow for multiple solutions by addressing the climate crisis and wean the American people off of their reliance on fossil fuels. 


However, sustainable vehicles can be expensive to lease or buy outright. For this reason, consideration of alternative modes of transportation must also include public transportation, such as trains, buses, ferries, and subways. One benefit of public transportation is that it “saves the US the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gas a year”. It also mainly supports minority individuals including women, people with disabilities, and people of color to be able to access employment and other necessities. Additionally, usage of public transportation systems instead of individual travel could save 30% of carbon emissions. Public transportation can also  save residents money, especially as gas prices fluctuate. 


Despite the potential utility of public transportation,  the United States lacks the proper infrastructure to maintain access for all individuals. Unlike other countries, the United States is not as accessible as it should be in providing public transportation. The Washington Post evaluated public transportation in multiple cities in 2020, detailing how many modes of transportation are not compliant in accordance with the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). Over 30 buses in Jackson, Mississippi did not have functional wheelchair lifts, while only 492 stations of the New York City subway are accessible for all passengers. Chicago and Boston both present barriers as well with elevators being out of order at least 50% of the time, requiring wheelchair bound individuals to create back-up plans that lead to longer travel times. The best solution to align with the ADA regulations, and establish effortless traveling for all, would be for the United States government to invest in renovating public infrastructure, which is exactly what Biden is looking to do.


Investing in public infrastructure also has its benefits for not just the environment, but the economy as well. Lin Taylor of World Economic Forum states, “Every $1 dollar invested in public transportation could generate $5 in economic returns”. It also allows for safe and reliable transportation. This dream was recently made possible with the signing of the infrastructure bill, we are one step closer to having reliable, green transportation. As noted in the White House briefing, The deal will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles.” America is making progress towards more sustainable transportation, but room for improvement still remains. 


Turning to green energy and alternative transportation can be a great way to combat ever fluctuating gas prices. It is important to always consider what is the right fit for you. Examining the various options that are accessible in your area is a great way to start.


Sources

(2021) Fact sheet: the bipartisan infrastructure deal boosts clean energy jobs, strengthens resilience and advances environmental justice. Retrieved August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/08/fact-sheet-the-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal-boosts-clean-energy-jobs-strengthens-resilience-and-advances-environmental-justice/ 


(2022) President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Retrieved September 6th, 2022 from:https://www.whitehouse.gov/bipartisan-infrastructure-law/ 


(2022) What is Green Power? Retrieved August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.epa.gov/green-power-markets/what-green-power 


Environmental Benefits of Public Transit. Retrieved: August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.kcata.org/about_kcata/entries/environmental_benefits_of_public_transit 


Koji Omi (2009). Alternative Energy for Transportation. Retrieved: August 25th, 2022 from: https://issues.org/omi/ 


Lin Taylor (2021) Want to create 5 million green jobs? Invest in public transport in cities. Retrieved August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/04/here-s-why-cities-should-invest-in-public-transport 


Matt Alderton (2020). Nearly 30 Years After the ADA, the Nation’s Transit Agency Report Success and Shortfalls. Retrieved: September 6th, 2022 from:https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/nearly-30-years-after-ada-nations-transit-agencies-report-successes-and-shortfalls/2020/06/25/76e102d8-af22-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html 

  

Shaun Pettypiece (2022). Gas Prices are down, but Biden’s problems are not going away. Retrieved: August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/gas-prices-are-bidens-problem-pump-isnt-going-away-rcna43810 


Sustainable Transportation. Retrieved: August 25th, 2022 from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/sustainable-transportation#:~:text=Sustainable%20transportation%20refers%20to%20low,savings%20on%20fuel%20and%20vehicles