Gasoline Prices Ease, as Average Nears $2.75

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Motorists have paid a premium for a tank of gas this summer, but prices are beginning to fall. i

Motorists have paid a premium for a tank of gas this summer, but prices are beginning to fall. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Motorists have paid a premium for a tank of gas this summer, but prices are beginning to fall.

Motorists have paid a premium for a tank of gas this summer, but prices are beginning to fall.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It is getting cheaper to fill your gas tank. The average price of gasoline has fallen nearly 45 cents a gallon in the last 12 weeks.

The prices on signs outside the nation's gas stations have been changing frequently in recent weeks. Every time a new price is posted, it is lower than the one before. The Energy Department says gas prices tumbled nearly 7 cents a gallon in the last week to a national average of about $2.77.

Even in California, the average price is now below $3 a gallon for the first time in five months.

Refineries are recovering from a spate of outages earlier this year, putting more gasoline on the market. That is a relief for drivers, says Geoff Sundstrom, of AAA.

"Certainly, we want to see the price come down. We're hopeful that there will be adequate gasoline in the fall, (and) that we won't have a repeat of the hurricanes we had a couple of years ago," Sundstrom says. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."

Tax records in California show when gas prices were topping $3.30 a gallon in April, drivers did cut back a bit. Consumption fell by a little less than 1 percent. Sundstrom says drivers should not give up those thrifty habits just because gas is getting cheaper.

"Over the long term, all the forecasts are that the world's energy demand overall will push the price of oil higher. So, our need to be energy efficient is a long-term lifestyle change," he says.

With falling demand after Labor Day, the Energy Department expects gas prices to keep dropping for the rest of the year, to about $2.64 a gallon. The average price of crude oil will be higher than last year's, though. Next year's crude prices are projected to be higher still.

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