The headline caught my eye, not because it was a surprise, but because I had suspected something like it was the case.

“Labor Day gas prices hit 12-year low,” announced a note Sept. 2 on the American Interest website, citing a release that same day from the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The agency’s statement began, “The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline was $2.24 a gallon on August 29, the lowest price on the Monday before Labor Day since 2004, and 27 cents per gallon lower than the same time last year.”

Why? “Lower crude oil prices are the main factor behind falling U.S. gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect continued high global crude oil and petroleum product inventories and increased drilling activity in the United States.”

Put another way, “Thank fracking.” And it’s not just oil whose price is dropping, but natural gas as well.

Forget that whole “peak oil” nonsense. The U.S. has whole underground oceans of fossil fuels that the fracking process has opened up, which has forced the world’s “petrostates” into a quest to depress their own production to force prices back up. But so far, they have failed.


As Reuters reported Sept. 6, “Oil prices are half their level of mid-2014, hurting producing nations’ income. OPEC and Russia tried earlier this year to curb the glut by seeking an output freeze, but the deal collapsed in April due to tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

It added, “The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers such as Russia will hold informal talks in Algeria on Sept. 26-28. Others in the market are skeptical a deal will happen,” because other producers are still making a profit.

In fact, U.S. production has risen to the point where experts can see the time when our nation will become a net exporter of fossil fuels.

CNN Money reported Aug. 9, “U.S. energy independence looks ‘tantalizingly close.'” If current trends continue, the story said, we could be “teetering on the edge” of self-sufficiency by 2020, just four years down the road.

Already the fracking boom has saved American families an average of $750 a year, the Energy Information Administration says. In a May 3 report, the agency noted, “Between 2008 and 2014, average annual household energy expenditures declined by 14.1 percent. During this period, household expenditures decreased by 17.7 percent for gasoline, 25.1 percent for natural gas, and 28.3 percent for fuel oil.”

Estimates vary, but some economists say consumers save upwards of $300 billion every year from peak pricing when oil sells below $60 a barrel (the current price is hovering around $45).


That’s a “shovel-ready stimulus program” worth celebrating, and if the price rises a bit, more producers will enter the market.

Note, too, that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told a field hearing in Seattle last month, as quoted in the Washington Examiner, “The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment.”

That’s because it’s benefiting the environment, a good-news story very few people know about: “The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer emissions,” Moniz said.

Indeed, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped more than 1 million tons since their 2007 peak, according to U.N. figures.

Prices are predicted to fall even more, perhaps below $2 a gallon for gas, as winter brings a drop in demand that will further increase supplies.

It’s a gift delivered every day directly to you from one of the nation’s most unfairly maligned industries. Let’s be grateful for a change, OK?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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