Americans weren’t paying more for gasoline this year, but we were buying a lot more of it. So the odds are good that 2012 will set a record for the amount of money spent on fuel.

Keep it flowing, America!

From the Los Angeles Times:

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. this year never reached the highs seen in 2008, when the all-time record of $4.114 was reached. The 2012 average never even climbed as high as it was last year, when it hit $3.965, according to the Energy Department.

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But fuel prices have been so consistently high in 2012 that American motorists are on pace to spend more on gasoline this year — $483 billion, or $1.32 billion a day — than they ever have before, according to the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey.

That would break the old record for the amount of money spent by Americans on gasoline, set last year, by about $12 billion. That’s in spite of the fact that the U.S. average topped out this year at $3.941 a gallon back in April.

Money well spent, to be sure.

Over the past five years, here’s how the average price of a gallon of gas has fluctuated:

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Since the end of 2010, that price has stabilized, hovering between about $3.25 and $3.90.

But the really fun part comes when you do a little back-of-the-envelope math. The Times indicates that the Department of Energy pegged the 2012 average price at $3.64 a gallon. If we’ve spent $483 billion on gas, that comes out to about 133 billion gallons of gasoline. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning one gallon of gasoline (mixed with ethanol) yields 17.68 pounds of carbon dioxide. So that would be …

2.35 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide.

Not all of that gasoline may have been burnt, and this calculus is very rough. However, that’s a staggering figure — a bit less than half our total CO2 emissions in 2008. For which we shelled out half a trillion dollars.

As I said earlier: Money. Well. Spent.