By Davey Smith

Today’s gasoline prices are extremely low, lower on average than they have been since early 2009.

This is due to the recent plunge that oil prices have taken, dropping from over $100 a barrel to well under $60 in just a few months, following increased production.

With the advent of hydraulic fracturing technology, an already controversial topic because of its potential impact on our environment, oil production in the U.S. has soared to heights not seen in over 20 years.

This lowered imports and decreased oil prices by approximately 40 percent over three months.

The resulting gas prices are, on average, about 40 percent lower than the prices in late spring and early summer of last year.

Low gasoline prices are good for those college students who don’t live in the dorms or near the college.

This is especially impactful at HCC, where being a community college, there are many students who either have to drive from out of town or drive to and from work after classes.

If a student has to drive to school, even just a few miles, going back and forth every day can get expensive as the miles add up.

For example, we’ll say one student has to drive 2.5 miles to school, and back, each day.

For one semester, if that’s about 15 weeks, five days a week, that’s 15 times five, which is 75 days of school.

That, times 5 miles a day, leaving out any extra driving, is 375 miles.

If your car gets 20 miles per gallon, that’s only 19 gallons for a whole semester. That’s pretty unlikely though, as many students come from farther away than that.

But, let’s stick with that figure anyway. If you take 19 gallons times $3.50, the national average for most of last spring and summer, is only $66.

But at current prices you would spend about 60 percent of that, or $40 for the whole semester.

For a student coming from farther away, say, Sterling, and they have a 15-mile drive, the difference in price is the difference between $400 and $240, a sizable amount.

As far as how long the current gasoline prices will last, no one really knows.

Experts predict that prices will stay low for a while, perhaps a year, unless hydraulic fracturing opponents succeed in preventing the industry from continuing to expand new drilling.

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