If they drop to where U.S. companies no longer enjoy their customary profit, they will cut back production and prices willNew England editorial roundup skyrocket. That's not impossible, but there is a conspiracy element attached that seems speculative at best.
For average consumers, it's best for the mind and soul not to get too caught up in the global view. Let's keep it simple. As prices begin to flirt with the $3 level, how should we react?
The answer: By doing exactly what we are doing, if that means driving with an eye on conservation and necessity, not waste.
Whatever the global oil situation might be, conserving fuel is never a bad thing. The money saved can remain in the consumer's pocket or go to other needs.
It's an especially good practice for younger drivers who will someday live in a world of reduced oil supplies. Because oil is not a replaceable substance, our reliance on easily obtained petroleum has an endpoint, whether that occurs decades from now or sooner.
When gas prices drop, several factors are involved — more efficient refinery techniques, cheaper gas blends, even the weather. The most basic reason, and the only on that consumers can control, is a reduction in demand and usage.
In the United States, that has occurred every year since 2007. Falling prices should not tempt motorists to abandon their prudence now.
Motorists in New England and throughout the nation have struggled with rising gas prices since the 1970s. This has forced adjustments not always been easy to make, but it has allowed the nation to manage this volatile issue better than the doomsdayers had predicted.
They foresaw a full-blown crisis with long lines, astronomical increases or no gas availability at all. Some still predict that will happen, but consumer response has played a major role in sustaining a manageable if not ideal situation.
Three dollars a gallon is still a lot. But it's not the disaster package, worst-case-scenario pundits have forecast.
In a small but significant way, American consumers are winning or at least not losing. This is no time to abandon sensible practices, even If the first number of per-gallon gas prices becomes "2'' and not "3," which now seems possible.
That should not be taken as a cue that it's time to abandon the principles of more conservative, need-based and fuel-efficient use we are now practicing.
Dropping prices make this the best time, not the worst, to seize the moment and put the pedal to the metal — not in terms of gulping up more gas because it's cheaper, but in the metaphorical sense of putting a greater emphasis on smart gas use than ever before.