As crude oil sank below $50 for the first time in years, gas prices in America continued their precipitous fall, with the average cost of a gallon below $2 today for the first time since 2005. The turnabout is the sharpest since the government began tracking prices in 1980. Suddenly, writes the Wall Street Journal, debate in Washington has shifted from whether the government should give drivers a tax break to whether Congress should hike taxes.
Gas is already selling for less than two bucks a gallon in 23 states; in Missouri, the price is down to $1.72. The steep decline worries both environmentalists and government officials, for whom the argument in favor of new energy technologies will become more difficult. Yet even though the price of fuel has fallen, the contracting economy is negating any increases in driving: demand for gas fell 3% this year and is expected to drop again in 2009.