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Travelers Can Celebrate Lowest Independence Day Gas Prices in Five Years

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When Americans fill their tanks for the holiday weekend they will pay the lowest price for gas on Independence Day in five years. A year ago, the AAA travel organization was reporting that the national average of $3.67 for regular gas was the highest it had been on July 4 since 2008. Today, though, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said the national average for a gallon of regular gas was 90 cents lower, at $2.77, and nearly as low as at this time in 2010.

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Regular gas averaged $2.74 on July 4, 2010, when the U.S. was still climbing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression and fewer Americans had money to burn on a weekend road trip. With gas prices this low and the recession in the rearview mirror — at least for most Americans — AAA predicts more motorists will hit the road this Fourth of July weekend. The organization said nearly 42 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles, the most since 2007, and 35.5 million will travel by car, a 5 percent increase over 2010.

“It is amazing that today’s gas prices are similar to five years ago even though the economic situation is now much better for many people,” AAA spokesman Michael Green said in an email. “Americans should consider taking advantage of that fact this summer because the combination of a growing economy and relatively low gas prices probably won’t last.”

In the near term, AAA said pump prices could drop or remain flat because U.S. oil prices have leveled off at around $60 a barrel — about $50 less than a year ago — and there is an abundant supply of oil domestically and globally. Demand for gas typically peaks during the July-August vacation season, and that usually pushes pump prices higher before they start to decline after Labor Day, AAA said. The Energy Information Agency estimates that Americans burned 3 percent more gasoline in the first half of this year compared with 2014.

Despite the prospects of higher demand later in the summer, AAA said gas prices may have peaked for 2015 when the national average for regular gas hit $2.80 a gallon on June 15, barring unexpected events that could reduce the supply of oil or spark a rally in oil prices.

AAA estimated that 15 percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2.50 a gallon and 13 percent are selling it for more than $3. A year ago, the price was over $3 at virtually all stations. South Carolina had the lowest statewide average gas price, $2.44 for regular. Mississippi, at $2.48, and Alabama, at $2.49, were the only other states averaging less than $2.50. Alaska had the highest price, $3.48, for regular, followed by California, $3.44, and Hawaii, $3.37. Five other states, all west of the Rocky Mountains, averaged $3 or more.

The national average of $2.77 for regular is a penny lower than a week ago and 2 cents higher than a month ago. Diesel fuel also fell a penny the past week to $2.84. That is 4 cents lower than a month ago and $1.06 less than a year ago. Gas prices fell by pennies in a majority of states the past week, including in California, where the average declined 2 cents. That is the seventh week in a row that California’s average has dropped, for a total of 35 cents.

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