More smog? Low gas prices could affect Utah’s climate, air

<span>SALT LAKE CITY – Low gas prices may be helping the economy by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but they may also have an unfortunate side effect. More driving means worse air quality, in Utah and across the nation, according to Dr. Brian Moench, president with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He says more driving means more cars producing greenhouse gases, which are the primary contributors to climate change.</span>

<span>”We would hope that lower gas prices don’t acclimate people to using their cars more than they might have otherwise,” Moench says. “We hope they would still be understanding that public transportation really is a critical part of a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels.”</span>

<span>Some parts of Utah are already known for their unhealthy winter air quality. Moench says low gas prices can also hurt the economy long term, because demand for electric vehicles and other forms of cleaner energy goes down. That means those resources can remain underdeveloped and less affordable, if gas prices go back up, as they have in the past. </span>

<span>Michael Green, public relations manager with Triple-A, says the national average gas price around $2.50 per gallon is at its lowest level in more than five years. He says an oversupply of oil globally is causing prices to fall and predicts they’ll stay low in the new year.</span>

<span>”It is a pretty safe bet that gas prices will remain relatively low throughout 2015, but after that, who knows,” says Green. “There is definitely the possibility U.S. oil production could decrease due to the fact crude oil prices are so low.”</span>

<span>Green says gas is now selling for less than $2 a gallon in several states, down from this year’s peak national average of $3.70 per gallon back in April. Triple-A estimates the average American family is saving about $100 a month at the pump. Green says altogether, Americans are saving about $400 million per day on gas.</span>

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