Low gas prices may be helping the economy by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but not without some negative side effect. More driving means worse air quality in Utah, and across the nation, according to Dr. Brian Moench, president of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He said more driving means more cars producing greenhouse gases, the primary contributors to climate change.
“We would hope that lower gas prices don’t acclimate people to using their cars more than they might have otherwise," Moench said. "We hope that they would still be understanding that public transportation really is a critical part of a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels.”
Some parts of Utah are already known for their unhealthy winter air quality. Moench said low gas prices can also impact the economy long-term because the demand for electric vehicles and other forms of cleaner energy goes down. That means if gas prices go back up, as they have in the past, environmentally friendly resources can remain underdeveloped and less affordable.