Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mixed feelings about falling gas prices

Gasoline prices recently dropped below $3 per gallon. This has left me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand I know how much high gas prices have been a drag on our economy. With gas prices declining, it will put more money in people's pockets, which is desperately needed in these sour economic times.

On the other hand, high gas prices have resulted in a real change in people's thinking and behavior. Recently, people have been driving less, using alternatives more, and demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

I recently reported on the upswing in MARTA ridership on my blog. I also recently attended the PACE Awards where the Clean Air Campaign and local TMAs have seen unprecedented demand for their services. These have been exciting times for those of us who would like to see less dependency on the automobile.

The question is what happens if gas prices continue to fall. What if we end up with gas at $1 per gallon? Will people start driving more? Sure they will. We have seen it before, and there is no reason why it would not happen again.

But I am confident that as a nation we have turned a corner with regard to our environmental understanding, which is certain to lead us in a different direction with regard to oil dependency.

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