Good news for our wallets.
When the summer of 2022 began, prices at the gas pump were pretty dire. Hitting a record nationwide average of $5.02 per gallon on June 14, gasoline became a bigger chunk of every family's budget and was particularly painful for people who had planned summer road trips to save over flying.
But since that peak, prices have steadily dropped to an average of $3.89 per gallon as of August 23. In fact, the price of gas has fallen every day for 70 days straight, which is the longest consecutive downward streak since January of 2015, according to Bloomberg. Prices vary by location, of course, but that prolonged drop is great news for our pocketbooks.
\u201cBREAKING: Gas prices have FALLEN for 70 straight days \u2014 according to AAA, the national average is now $3.89/gal.\u26fd\ufe0f\u201d— Jon Cooper (@Jon Cooper) 1661253827
Why are prices dropping, though? It depends on who you ask.
The Biden administration has touted the president's policies for the price decline, but the reality is a lot more complicated. Every president is quick to take credit for lowering gas prices and every political opponent is quick to blame them for rising gas prices. Unfortunately, our penchant for partisan side-taking tends to push us to follow suit.
But presidents actually have very little control over gas prices or the factors that influence them. Global crude oil prices, which have the greatest influence on prices at the pump, are mostly out of a president's control.
“No administration really has a lot of sway over gas prices,” Andrew Gross, a spokesman for the AAA, told Factcheck.org. Severin Borenstein, faculty director of the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, told Politifact, “By far the biggest driver is the price of crude oil, which is driven by supply and demand factors. A strong global economy, which presidents can influence slightly, is likely to increase demand and drive up prices."
The global economy and crude oil prices have been affected by all kinds of things, from the COVID-19 pandemic driving down demand in 2020 to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, causing instability in the global energy market. President Biden has also released record amounts of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try to mitigate the price spike, but gas prices have been up all over the world, and even with our prices remaining higher than average, our gas prices are still lower than most of the world.
The truth is complex. Lower gas prices are certainly good for our individual, immediate bottom line, of course, but focusing solely on our own savings ignores a host of other implications. For instance, higher gas prices can cause people to drive less, which is actually a positive for the environment. On the other hand, people who can't afford those higher prices but who have no choice but to buy gas suffer disproportionately from higher prices, making price fluctuations an equity issue as well. Sometimes low gas prices can be a bad sign, as was the case during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And despite the long streak of falling prices, industry experts and former government officials say that prices could go back up again. So for now, let's just say yay that prices have been falling for a while, celebrate saving some money and keep working on ways to lessen our dependence on oil and gas so these prices aren't as big a factor in our lives.