Mar 1, 2023 - News

NWA's bumpy gas prices

Data: GasBuddy; Note: Price as of the 1st of each month; Chart: Axios Visuals

Northwest Arkansas drivers spent an average of $3.06 per gallon of gas in January, per GasBuddy data. That's down 3% from a year ago but up 1% from the month prior.

  • Nationally, gas cost about $3.40/gallon in January — down 6% year over year but up 2% from Jan. 1.

The big picture: Cheaper gas is good news for American consumers, especially commuters.

Yes, but: Lower prices may lessen incentives for drivers to switch to more efficient cars, go electric or embrace public transit — all of which can have big environmental benefits.

Why it matters: More than three-quarters of American commuters drive to and from work, meaning they're sensitive to the ebbs and flows of prices at the pump — especially as other basic goods also get more expensive.

  • Gas prices are also a political football, rightfully so or not.
  • When they're high, many Americans blame whoever's in the Oval Office — even though, as Axios' Andrew Freedman has reported, the president lacks significant control over the cost of commodities priced on global markets, oil included.

Driving the news: Crude oil prices have fallen over the past year, leading to cheaper gasoline.

  • A barrel of west Texas intermediate crude — a common industry benchmark — cost around $76 as of late February, down from about $122 in June 2022.
  • Oil prices spiked last year amid uncertainty over Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Russia — a major oil producer — that followed.

Zoom in: San Francisco's average gas prices are among the country's highest, coming in at $4.76 per gallon in February. (Taxes, regulations and snags with local refining operations can sometimes lead to higher prices across California).

  • Houston drivers are enjoying some of the cheapest prices nationwide at just $2.93/gallon.

Reality check: Charging up an EV isn't always significantly cheaper than filling a tank with gasoline — especially on road trips, Axios' Joann Muller recently found,

  • Electric cars aren't perfectly clean, either. Mining for the requisite materials can damage local ecosystems, while EVs' environmental benefits are lessened if they're charged with "dirty power" from, say, a coal plant.

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