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U.S. paying most since 1983 for fuel, despite plentiful oil, gas reserves

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Americans are spending the most since 1983 to fill-up their cars and trucks, according to a new study released by the federal government's Energy Information Administration.

"Gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4% of income before taxes," the EIA report said.

"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."

What makes this development particularly curious is the fact that while overall gas consumption has gone down in recent years, the rising price of a gallon of fuel has gone up.

Even so, the EIA pointed out, the near-4 percent figure today is not quite as high as it was in the early 1980s "when the estimated portion of household income spent on gasoline surpassed 5%. Although travel per household has increased significantly since the early 1980s, vehicle efficiency has also risen significantly, reducing the amount of gasoline used per mile."

The EIA study's release paralleled that of a report commissioned by the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research on the potential economic impact of developing more of the country's massive untapped fossil-fuel resources.

The report was prepared by Louisiana State University Professor Joseph Mason. Among the study's key findings are these:

  • GDP would increase by $127 billion annually for the next seven years, and $450 billion annually for the next thirty years.
  • The cumulative 37-year increase in GDP would be $14.4 trillion.
  • 552,000 jobs would be created over the next seven years, with almost 2 million jobs annually for the next thirty years.
  • Job gains would be felt in high-wage, high-skill employment like health care, education, professional fields, and the arts.
  • $32 billion in annual wage increases over the next seven years, with a cumulative $3.7 trillion increase over the a 37 year cycle.
  • The federal government stands to receive $2.7 trillion more in tax revenues over the next 37 years, while state and local tax revenues equal $1.1 trillion in the same time period.

To read the full IER report, click here.

For the complete EIA report, go here.

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