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How Will Low Gas Prices Affect Nevada's Air Quality?

PHOTO: Nevada's economy may benefit from lower gas prices, but climate and air quality may take a hit if Americans are driving more. Photo courtesy of the California Energy Commission.
PHOTO: Nevada's economy may benefit from lower gas prices, but climate and air quality may take a hit if Americans are driving more. Photo courtesy of the California Energy Commission.
December 29, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Low gas prices may be helping the economy by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but more driving could mean more air pollution in Nevada and across the U.S.

Will Toor, director of transportation programs at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, says research shows that in the past few years Nevadans are driving less in favor of public transportation, bicycling and walking.

Despite gas prices being low right now, Toor is hopeful that the trend to drive less will continue.

"Would encourage communities in Nevada to be really looking at focusing their transportation investments in public transit and in making walkable, bikeable communities, where's it's easy for people to meet their daily travel needs without having to get into a car," he adds.

Some groups that work on climate issues say low gas prices can also hurt the economy long-term, because demand for electric vehicles and other forms of cleaner energy goes down. That means those resources can remain underdeveloped and less affordable when gas prices go back up.

Michael Green, public relations manager at AAA, says the national average gas price around $2.30 per gallon is at its lowest level in more than five years.

He says an over supply 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, but after that, who knows?” he states. “There is definitely the possibility that U.S. oil production could decrease due to the fact that crude oil prices are so low."

Green says 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 says altogether, Americans are saving about $400 million per day on gas.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV