Irony: As Violent Protesters Try to Block Pipeline Americans Enjoy Historically Low Gas Prices


A drilling rig operates near Keene, N.D., on Monday, March 14, 2016. North Dakota's drilling rig count is down to about 29, the lowest since October 2005. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

This long weekend Americans who chose to spend the holiday on the road are enjoying some historically low gas prices.

“The last time gas prices leading up to the Labor Day weekend were this cheap, the world was just moving on from the Olympics in Athens, Greece,” the American Interest reports.

From the Energy Information Administration:

The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline was $2.24/gallon (gal) on August 29, the lowest price on the Monday before Labor Day since 2004, and 27¢/gal lower than the same time last year. Lower crude oil prices are the main factor behind falling U.S. gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect continued high global crude oil and petroleum product inventories and increased drilling activity in the United States. …

As fall approaches and U.S. driving decreases, lower gasoline demand, shifts to less costly winter fuel specifications, and reduced crude oil purchases by refineries undergoing seasonal maintenance have the potential to put downward pressure on crude oil and gasoline prices. In the August Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts U.S. regular gasoline prices will decline to an average of $1.95/gal during the fourth quarter of 2016 and will average $2.06/gal for 2016.

We North Dakotans haven’t exactly been thrilled about low oil prices, given that it has slowed oil activity and thus our commodity-driven state economy. But at a macro level, cheap energy is good. It improves the quality of living in America across the board. It is a pebble thrown in a pond causing all manner of positive ripples.

Not only is it cheaper for Americans to enrich themselves and their families through travel, but the cost of goods and services falls. The cost of manufacturing falls. For better or worse, the well being of humanity in these modern times is rooted in energy. The more plentiful energy is, the easier it is to access that energy, the better off we all are.

Our state’s oil activity will keep rolling as oil producers adjust to lower prices. The wonderful thing about the ceaseless drive of human invention and innovation is that the frackers are always driving down the cost of getting the oil up out of the ground.

Which puts in context, I think, the desperation of the extremist anti-oil protesters currently trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline with violent protest. Fracking has prompted a revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production, but with efforts to ban fracking derailed by a speed bump called reality, the anti-fossil fuels extremists have turned to intimidation and wars of legal attrition to get their way.

Let’s all hope they’re not successful. Protests calling for safe pipelines and responsible energy development are one thing. But extremists just trying to keep the oil in the ground are quite another.