gas prices

After a 330,000-gallon spill shut down a gasoline pipeline in Alabama on Sept. 9, fuel shortages and high gas prices are occurring across the Southern United States this week, NPR member stations report.

Emily Siner of Nashville's WPLN tells NPR's Newscast that prices there have risen about 20 cents per gallon since Thursday, and officials are urging drivers not to fill up unless they need to:

AAA Oklahoma says more than 400,000 state residents will travel at least 50 miles over the Labor Day holiday weekend – the highest number since 2008.

Spokesman Chuck Mai said 96 percent of that figure will travel by car, and even though gas prices are up about $0.20 since August 1, he thinks many drivers are encouraged by gas prices about $0.19 below the 2015 Labor Day holiday.

A proposal to increase Oklahoma's fuel taxes has been rejected by an Oklahoma House committee.

The House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget Tuesday voted 14-9 against the bill that would raise gasoline and diesel fuel taxes in the state.

If you've stopped for gas lately, you've probably noticed a price jump.

A week ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was around $1.70. Now it's about $1.80, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices.

So rising gas prices must reflect shrinking oil supplies, right?

Nope.

As winter starts to wind down, you may be stepping up your plans for a spring-break trip.

But have you checked airfares lately?

If you haven't looked since Christmas, you may be in for a surprise: Many fares are up. In fact, the largest U.S. carriers have nudged rates higher three times in recent weeks.

Farecompare.com, a fare tracking website, says airlines are charging $22 more for round-trip flights this year. Most of the hikes are hitting smaller cities and less competitive markets.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Crashing crude oil prices are fueling big bargains for American motorists, who are driving away with tanks full of inexpensive gasoline. Today, the national average is $1.71 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Oklahoma could be one of the first places in the country to see gas prices dip below $1 a gallon.

A shiny black Mercedes pulls up near a pump, the bell rings and Ross Ledbetter tells the driver to pop the hood.

“It’s showing full,” he shouts. “You have a concern?”

As part of the budget plan unveiled this week, President Obama would dramatically increase spending on “clean transportation infrastructure,” including high-speed rail, self-driving cars and incentives for states to improve mass transit.

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Oklahoma, the economy runs on oil. The energy industry drives 1 in 5 jobs and is tied to almost every type of tax source. So falling oil prices have created a state budget crisis. Joe Wertz of State Impact Oklahoma sent this report.

There were high-fives this week from Detroit to Washington, D.C., as carmakers celebrated record auto sales.

Americans bought 17.5 million cars and trucks in 2015. That's a huge turnaround from 2009, and the Obama administration cheered the rebound as vindication of the president's decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy.

"Because of the policy decisions that were made by this administration to place a bet on those workers, America has won, and our economy has been better for it," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.

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