9,236 gallons of oil

August 31, 2010 | By | Reply More

I recently visited the website of Rocky Mountain Institute, where I learned that the United States consumes nearly 19 million barrels of oil per day.   That sounds like a lot of oil, but how can I put it into a number that I can understand?

Consider, that there are 42 gallons per barrel.   I decided to calculate how many gallons American consume each second.  The answer?   Americans consume 9,236 gallons of oil each second. Consider that an Olympic sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons.  Thus, Americans use oil at such a high rate that we could almost fill up an Olympic sized swimming pool every minute, day and night, 365 days a year.

Much of that oil is burned for transportation.   What can we do in the transportation sector to use oil more efficiently?  As individuals, we can use less by walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, combining trips and making sure that your engine is tuned and your tires are fully inflated. No Impact Man Colin Beavan offers a free manual full of ideas (register here). Here are 365 more suggestions.

RMI suggests an additional way to cut back our use of oil:  by using “feebates.”

The basic idea of a feebate is simple. Buyers of inefficient vehicles are levied a surcharge (the “fee”), while buyers of efficient vehicles are awarded a rebate (the “bate”). By affecting the purchase cost up front, feebates speed the production and adoption of more efficient vehicles, saving oil, insecurity, cost, and carbon.

One form of a feebate program has been in use in France, where vehicles now have the lowest carbon emissions in the European Union.  To read more about feebates, see “Feebates: A Key to Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction.”


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Category: Energy, Environment, Sustainable Living

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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