Americans need to decide on a fair price for gasoline

Angolan Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called the price of oil at $70 per barrel "not bad." Oil traded up 17 cents to $71.10 on Monday at mid-day. Which begs the question: What's a fair price for a gallon of gasoline? Currently, the U.S. average price for unleaded regular gasoline is $2.62 per gallon, according to data compiled by gasbuddy.com.

It's hardly an inconsequential question for the United States. Absent a breakthrough energy technology, most Americans will continue to use gasoline to propel their vehicles for at least the next 10 years and probably for longer. Increased fuel efficiency, conservation and likely changed living/commuting patterns all hold the promise of decreasing per capita gasoline consumption in the United States, but the undeniable reality remains: For at least the next decade, American citizens will largely remain dependent on gasoline, with the nation's economy vulnerable to future oil shocks.