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Utah News

Lower Gas Prices Impacts Environment

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California Environmental Protection Agency
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Lower Gas Prices

Low gas prices may be helping the economy by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but not without some negative side effect. More driving means worse air quality in Utah, and across the nation, according to Dr. Brian Moench, president of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He said more driving means more cars producing greenhouse gases, the primary contributors to climate change.

“We would hope that lower gas prices don’t acclimate people to using their cars more than they might have otherwise," Moench said. "We hope that they would still be understanding that public transportation really is a critical part of a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels.”

Some parts of Utah are already known for their unhealthy winter air quality. Moench said low gas prices can also impact the economy long-term because the demand for electric vehicles and other forms of cleaner energy goes down. That means if gas prices go back up, as they have in the past, environmentally friendly resources can remain underdeveloped and less affordable.

Michael Green with AAA said the national average gas price is around $2.50 per gallon and is at its lowest level in more than five years. He says an oversupply of oil, globally, is causing prices to fall and predicts they'll stay low in the new year.

“It is a pretty safe bet that gas prices will remain relatively low throughout 2015," Green said. "But after that, who knows? There is definitely the possibility that U.S. oil production could decrease due to the fact that crude oil prices are so low."

Green said gas is now selling for less than $2 a gallon in several states – down from this year's peak national average price of $3.70 per gallon back in April. AAA estimates that the average American family is saving about $100 a month at the pump. Green said altogether, Americans are saving about $400-million per day on gas.

Story courtesy of News Service