Opinion: Loving low gas prices, for the moment


Gas prices are the lowest they’ve been in four years. I can’t believe I’m actually applauding $2.50 a gallon.

Years ago when a peanut farmer from Georgia was in the White House, the nation was struck dumb when a short chapter of political buffoonery drove prices at the pump from a lackadaisical 75 cents a gallon to a whopping two bucks a shot.

Suddenly, there was a shortage of petroleum in America, and we waited in long lines to get gas, often only a few gallons at a time. More than once I got to the head of the line only to learn the station was sold out. The next delivery truck wasn’t due for several days, if then.

Instantly, gasoline was the most precious commodity to be found. Desperate drivers paid black market prices for a few gallons. Late night gas tank theft was rampant, and folks eagerly bought devices to insert into the gas filler openings of their cars to prevent siphoning. Ads appeared for magical doodads promising to stretch mileage to impossible levels. They didn’t work, but we bought them anyway.

We purchased bicycles for trips to the grocery store. We parked our gas-guzzling land yachts and cancelled Sunday drives. Motor scooter and moped sales skyrocketed with the promise of high gas mileage.

When the crisis subsided, gas prices inched downward again and the nation breathed a cautious sigh of relief. Detroit saddled up and galloped off in quest of economy cars. Congress bellowed about foreign oil. Petroleum exploration hit unprecedented highs, and many an abandoned oil field was reopened to suck precious crude from ground previously deemed unprofitable.

One senior industry analyst quietly announced that this was just the beginning, and one day America would be thrilled to pay $2 a gallon for gasoline. We didn’t believe it, but we realized the days of gasoline for a few cents a gallon along with neighborhood gas wars driving prices even lower were a thing of the past.

For a few years prices hovered below the one-dollar mark. Then things heated up in the Middle East, OPEC got seriously organized, and gasoline prices once more inched skyward.

Then came 9/11 and suddenly the world was a different place. Overnight, prices soared. Some stations tried to set the bar at $5 a gallon, and for the past four years prices have stubbornly approached $4.

Then several weeks ago a combination of relentless high OPEC production and efficient drilling methods in the U.S., dramatically increased the supply of crude oil. Pump prices tumbled below $3 for the first time in years.

Will it last? Probably not.

One thing for sure though. That analyst was dead right.  I’m loving $2 a gallon.