Have you noticed? The price of gas has gone down.  Who would ever have thought we’d be glad to see gas at $3.75 a gallon? But, after gas at $3.99 a gallon, that’s an improvement.
What caused the price of gas to go down by 24 cents a gallon? China, India, and other developing nations are still demanding more oil and gas as their economies grow and more of their people drive cars.
Several things contribute to the recent decline in the price of gas at the pump.  Foremost, is the drop in the price of a barrel of oil.  After a high of $147 on July 11, the price dropped below $125 Wednesday for the first time since June 5. But, what caused the price of a barrel of oil to drop?
A key factor is the rise in the value of the U.S. dollar in comparison to the euro and other currencies. Oil is priced in U.S. dollars, so as the value of a dollar goes up, our cost goes down.
Also, the U.S. demand for oil decreased. Due to the high price, we reduced our usage to balance our budgets. While our individual savings may seem inadequate, the cumulative effect left the oil companies with increased inventories. U.S. inventories jumped by 2.9 million barrels. Our domestic fuel demand is the lowest it’s been since January 2007. As a major user on the world market, when we back off on our demand, the pressure on the price of a barrel of oil decreases.
Another factor for the drop is the threat posed by Hurricane Dolly faded. Twenty-five percent of our domestic supply of oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Any hurricane there threatens our oil production and drives up the cost of oil. The lack of a threat removes that pressure on the price.
A factor I haven’t seen much written or spoken about is President Bush’s removal of the ban on offshore drilling. While that action had no effect on the supply of oil, it did have a psychological effect on investors. Congress still has a moratorium on oil exploration on the outer continental shelf, so little is likely to change, but just the threat of drilling makes investors nervous. Drilling would increase the supply, which would put downward pressure on the price of oil and threaten their profit.
Another factor making investors nervous is a bill pending in Congress which would limit investments.
The downward pressure on oil prices is temporary. There may be fluctuations, but the trend will continue up. As demand for oil continues to increase on the world market and the supply remains relatively constant, the price of oil will go up.
What can we do? On the short term, we need to meet our energy needs. In the long term, we need to reduce our dependence on oil. 
Politicians on both sides of the aisle need to be reasonable and allow needed action. Congressional action often does more harm than good.  Citizens may have to pressure Congress to take necessary and appropriate action.
Drilling offshore and in environmentalists’ sacred grounds will increase the supply and help in the short term. Depending on who you believe, we import between 58 and 70 percent of the oil we use. This is a huge increase from the 28 percent we imported in 1982-83.  Again, depending on who you believe, we could be importing 68 percent of the oil we use by 2025 or 80 percent by 2018. We could reduce our dependence on foreign oil by producing more of our own.
Producing more of our own oil won’t help, though, unless we increase our refining capacity. That will require action by Congress to keep the courts from blocking the construction and operation.
In the long term, we must develop alternative energy sources and greater efficiency. The supply of oil is limited. We need to not only embrace research of new technology, but also use alternate sources of energy and transportation already available.
People of all political parties and ideologies need to work together for solutions, instead of fighting one another and protecting their pet interests.
William Catts, a resident of Waynesville since 1995, is also a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, a member of several local veterans’ organizations, and is heavily involved in Habitat for Humanity. His wife, Annette, teaches second grade at Pick Elementary on Fort Leonard Wood. Their two sons currently serve in the Air Force.