NORMAN — Absent significant storms, major wars or production and distribution outages, the single largest factor that will influence gasoline prices this year will be the strength of the U.S. economy, AAA reported this week.
Oklahoma’s average gasoline price is the sixth lowest of all the states. According to FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com, motorists in six states — Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Idaho and Oklahoma — currently pay less than $3 per gallon of gasoline at the pump. Utah is the country’s price leader at $2.90. The average price in Texas today is 18 cents above Oklahoma’s.
Only drivers in Hawaii pay more than $4 per gallon. The highest average prices in the continental United States are found in California and in the Northeast.
Stronger-than-expected growth in the economy would result in higher oil and gasoline prices in anticipation of higher consumption, while a weaker-than-expected economy would drive prices downward. Inaction by Congress to reach a debt deal in two months also would result in increased concern about the U.S. economy and could lead to lower gasoline prices.
Decreases in compressed natural gas prices are being driven by provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, passed last week by Congress to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The measure includes a one-year extension of the tax credit on the sale of CNG and liquefied natural gas for vehicle use and for the installation of natural gas fueling equipment. Specifically, this is a 50-cent per gasoline gallon equivalent tax credit for CNG, a 50-cent per gallon tax credit for LNG and a $30,000 infrastructure tax credit.
These tax credits are extended until this Dec. 31 and are retroactive for all of 2012.
While retail gasoline prices are currently rising at a slower rate than they did to start 2012, the average is pressured higher by crude oil prices that have continued to slowly increase in recent weeks.