By Max Benoit
Entirely East Lansing
The gas prices in East Lansing have plummeted below $2 a gallon, and residents and commuters are enjoying it while they can.
“I hope that it never goes up again,” said Andrew Cusmano, an East Lansing resident for the last five years while attending MSU. “When I was in high school, it was nearing five dollars a gallon. That was just absurd.”
Cusmano added that if there are low gas prices, that is one less financial burden that he has to worry about.
“I drive five, maybe six days a week and I fill up my tank once every couple of weeks,” Cusmano said. “So if gas stays the same price, that’s more money in my wallet.”
MSU medical student Jessie Pristley said that she will accept any help that she can get when it comes to finances.
“I’m paying I think $35,000 a year in tuition. So anything to save me money is nice for me now. I can’t complain,” Pristley said.
Leanne Vargas is a native of the Flint area, but commutes to East Lansing weekly to see her boyfriend.
“I’m happy because I’m able to drive all the way to East Lansing more often and for a cheaper price,” Vargas said.
Chris Smith is a farmer that commutes to East Lansing as well. Smith believes that everyone will benefit from low prices.
“It’s nice. It helps on the wallet. Everybody likes low gas prices,” said Smith.
According to Gasbuddy.com, gas prices were almost $4 per gallon at this time three years ago. The average price of gas in the state of Michigan as of Feb. 18 is $1.73 per gallon. On Feb. 14, the price of gas at some gas stations in East Lansing was below that at $1.50 per gallon.
Basic economics are the main reason to why gas prices are so low. There is simply more oil than the world needs right now. The United States oil production has doubled over the last several years and Canada has increased their crude oil exports to the United States as well. All while demand has pretty much gone unchanged. All of this adds up to lower prices.
Anh Vuong, a graduate student at MSU who is getting her Ph.D. in accounting, thinks that low gas prices are good for the consumer and the economy in the short term, but may have a drastic effect on the hydraulic fracturing industry soon. “Fracking” is the process of drilling into the earth in order to obtain natural gas.
“Let’s say if you are Canadian, you are probably relying on fracking. That costs a lot of money. Low gas prices are going to drive all of the fracking businesses out of the map,” Vuong said. “In the long run if they aren’t a player in the map then you’ll get much higher prices of oil in the future.”
Unlike the possible impact on the fracking industry, Smith said that the low oil prices will not have a serious impact in farming.
“Our discounts that we get for fuel, they don’t matter that much because it affects your grain prices. So it all equals out in the end,” Smith said. “When diesel is expensive it really hurts us.”
With the amount of oil being produced by countries all over the world, it is not likely that gas prices will go back up until the end of 2016. Cusmano believes that the prices will be short lived and will go back up sooner than that.
“Every time there is a war or natural disaster, or something like that, they use it as an excuse to drive the price up,” Cusmano said. “Something will happen to bring them back up quickly.”
Americans had to adjust their driving habits significantly when the gas prices went up years ago. Some residents believe that the lower gas prices will change driving habits once again.
“You’re in a college town. Of course you’re going to drive more when the gas prices are lower. I’m just not your average person,” Smith said.
“Everyone is buying pickup trucks right. If gas prices were still $4, the F-150 wouldn’t be the most popular car on the road,” Pristley said.