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for people who care about the West

One way to look at $4 gas


I just endured the most expensive tank of gas I've ever bought in my life, and the next one certainly won't be any cheaper. Like most Americans, I'm not fond of paying $4 a gallon for gasoline.

But while I was watching the pump numbers climb at astonishing rate, and remembering the days of my youth when I'd drive 10 miles to get gas at 25.9 cents per gallon in LaSalle, Colo., instead of 28.9 in Greeley, I also thought about this:

This $65 tank of gas originated as crude oil that may have been under a desert 8,000 miles away, or beneath the Gulf of Mexico, or under the Alaskan tundra, or below some farmland in Colorado.

Somebody had to find it there, and then drill the wells, and pump it to the surface, and remove water and sulfur from the crude oil, then transport it to a refinery, distill and extract the gasoline, formulate and blend various additives, and deliver it to the gas station.

Of course they do not do all this out of altruism or philanthropy; they do it to make money. But it is a long and complex process that puts gasoline in my pickup's tank, and when I think about it that way, $4 a gallon doesn't seem like such a bad deal. At least until the credit-card statement arrives, anyway.