Oil prices fall, commuter students still feel pinch at the pump

Oil prices fall, commuter students still feel pinch at the pump

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

After a summer of record-high gas prices across the nation, people are finding relief at the pump as prices drop.

The decrease in the price of fuel can be attributed to the old adage of supply and demand, according to Professor of economics Jim Palmieri.

“People aren’t traveling as much or flying as much as they used to,” Palmieri said. “We’re probably into a recession right now. Usually, energy usage drops a lot as well when that happens.”

In addition to supply and demand, Palmieri also attributed the low prices to actions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.

“OPEC has kept their production amounts pretty solid, so it’s been good on the market,” Palmieri said.

Earlier this past summer, gas prices skyrocketed to heights that had never been seen before. The price reached heights of over four dollars in Alaska.

“Supply was not sufficient to meet the demand,” Palmieri said. “I also think the oil speculation contributed a lot to it.”

According to Palmieri, the price of gasoline is largely determined by crude oil production.

“The price at the pump is strongly correlated with the price of crude oil,” Palmieri said. “They tend to go together.”

According to an article on Newsweek’s Web site, Americans burn 391 million gallons of fuel every day. One expert said in the article that high gas prices may help expose issues affecting our nation today.

“The biggest lie in American politics today is to say you care deeply about global warming and advocate for the price of gas to go down,” Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, was quoted as saying. “Those are mutually exclusive concepts.”

The high gas prices have had a significant impact on students, particularly commuter students.

Senior Whitney Bieghler said the high gas prices put a strain on her wallet.

“I commute about a half hour,” Bieghler said. “I spent about $300 a month on gas because I drive an SUV.”

Junior Tiffany Beaty, also a commuter, said the recent lower prices have helped her greatly.

“I’m a commuter student,” Beaty said. “Now that they’re cheaper, it’s easier for me to get back and forth.”

Some students, however, feel very little or no impact from the high gas prices.

Sophomore Aaron Sewell has no transportation on campus.

“I tell people I have an imaginary car with imaginary gas prices,” Sewell said.

Although gas prices appear to be going down for now, Palmieri said there’s a chance that they will increase again.

“They’ll probably be higher than they are now,” Palmieri said. “I don’t think they’ll go up to $4 a gallon again.”

Palmieri believes this is because of the economic state of the nation and world.

“We’re facing a recession in not just the U.S., but in other developed nations as well,” Palmieri said. “In some smaller countries, their growth estimates are being cut back.”

He also stated that gas prices may be decreasing, but that nobody should get their hopes up about them going down to very low numbers without there being some other consequences as a result.

“I would be incredibly shocked to see them below two dollars,” Palmieri said. “If they get below that, I think OPEC would limit its output.”