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Gas Is Under $4 a Gallon in Half of the US. Here's When It Could Happen in Your State

Man at a gas pump
At least 24 states are averaging under $4 a gallon this week.
Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images

What's happening

Gas prices have continued to decline since reaching an all-time average high of $5.02 in mid-June. In 24 states a gallon of unleaded is now less than $4.

Why it matters

Lower prices would help American households battle ongoing inflation.

Gas prices continue to plummet in the US: On Aug. 8, a gallon of unleaded averaged less than $4 in 24 states, according to AAA

Even with the lower prices, Americans are limiting their driving and combining errands. Gasoline consumption is down almost 10% from last summer, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

That and the cheaper cost of oil has led to lower prices at the pump: The nationwide average on Monday was about $4.06. That's 15 cents cheaper than a week ago and down 66 cents from this time last month. 

"It's possible that the national average will fall below $4 this week," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a statement.

Patrick de Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, also predicted in a July 18 blog post that the nationwide average would fall to $3.99 by mid-August, barring severe weather or other unforeseen disruptions.   

Here's what you need to know about gas prices, including where they might go next and what the White House is doing to keep them in check.

For more on the gas crisis, find out which states are holding gas tax holidays and which are issuing gas rebate checks, and check out quick tips for saving money at the pump.

How low could gas prices go?

The steady decline is due to lower demand for gas coupled with lower oil prices: In August, crude oil dipped below $90 a barrel for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Though we're a far cry from the $2.70 a gallon average we saw in 2019 -- or even the $3.19 average this time last year -- experts like de Haan and White House energy adviser Amos Hochstein predict the price of gas will soon drop below $4 across the country for the first time since March 2022.

"We already have many gas stations around the country that are below $4," Hochstein told CBS News' Face the Nation in July. 

The swift decline was all the more notable, he added, given that there's a war in Ukraine "where one of the parties in the war is the third largest [oil] producer in the world."

Why is gas so expensive in the first place?

Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine is an obvious factor. According to the White House, the war raised gasoline prices by more than $1.70 per gallon at its peak. Even though the US doesn't import much crude from Russia, oil is traded on a global market and any change affects prices all over the world.

By June 13, gasoline had hit $5.02 a gallon -- a record dollar amount, though still lower than the 2008 peak of $4.14 once adjusted for inflation. But crossing the $6 threshold, or even the $5 limit again, seems far less likely today.

But the Russian invasion isn't the only factor: Even though demand is nearing pre-pandemic levels, producers are still hesitant to increase production.

"We've had a supply-and-demand imbalance for a while," Troy Vincent, a senior market analyst at energy analysis firm DTN, told CNET. "And it will remain, regardless of whether this conflict goes away."

A Washington, DC, gas station shows gas prices above $5 a gallon.

Gasoline reached an all-time high of $5.02 in June.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has also accused top oil companies of profiteering.

"Amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain," Biden wrote in a June 15 letter to the heads of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and other companies.

What is the Biden administration doing to lower gas prices? 

In March, the White House began releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The unprecedented withdrawal, expected to last for six months, could lower gasoline prices between 10 and 35 cents a gallon.

"It will lower the oil price a little and encourage more demand. But it is still a Band-Aid on a significant shortfall of supply," Scott Sheffield, chief executive of Texas oil company Pioneer Natural Resources, told The New York Times.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency approved year-round sales of E15 gasoline, a cheaper, higher-ethanol fuel. The impact will be modest, as only about 2,500 of the more than 100,000 gas stations nationwide sell the blend.

The US is also looking at getting energy products from other sources: Biden went to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, in part to encourage the kingdom to increase output. But it and other OPEC nations say they're already pumping at full throttle.

Relief isn't likely to come from outside OPEC, either: This year, major oil companies like Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil are expected to invest half of what they did in production a decade ago.

The Biden administration has been working to improve diplomatic relations with Venezuela, which has been banned from selling oil to the US since 2018. And the White House is negotiating another nuclear nonproliferation treaty with Iran, which could bring Iranian oil back onto the market.

How can drivers save at the pump?

You can cut down on nonessential trips and shop around for the best price, even crossing state lines if it's convenient.

Apps like Gas Guru scan for the best gas prices in your region. Others, like FuelLog, track your car's gas mileage and can help determine if it's getting decent fuel economy. In addition, many gas station chains have loyalty programs, and credit cards have rewards programs that give cash back for gas purchases.