This story was written by Ryan Hoffman, The Daily Athenaeum
As the United States economy continues to struggle, experts say gas prices may continue to fall.Gas prices peaked because of the success of Chinas and other Asian markets, and they have been dropping due to a worldwide recession, according to Stratford Douglas, associate professor of economics at West Virginia University.Prices have fallen below $2 in parts of the state, but Douglas said Morgantowns prices may not drop as far.Its most likely that prices will continue to fall in Morgantown, Douglas said. but its not great conciliation to be able to afford to drive to work if you lose your job. Most experts agree that the economy is going to get worse.Prices often depend on how close a fueling station is to a pipeline or how much the competition is charging.Some states, such as Virginia, have a cheaper gas tax than West Virginia, which could be why prices in southern West Virginia are lower than in Morgantown.My guess is that gas is cheaper toward Virginia because gas stations need to compete with the lower tax, Douglas said. You want people to stop in a store to buy cigarettes and drinks lower prices will get them in. The stores probably arent taking a loss, but they are still reducing their profits to prevent people from driving to another state to fill up.Douglas added the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries may reduce the supply of oil to stabilize prices while the United States continues to seek energy independence.The U.S. Department of Energy has recently been focused on ethanol, a fuel produced by crops.But converting croplands into crops for ethanol has, in part, increased the price of beef, milk and grain, according to Scott W. Wayne, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.Another fuel alternative is compressed natural gas. It is used by transit agencies and garbage collectors but never caught on for personal use.Wayne said Monongalia County schools are looking to switch to biodiesel, a clean burning fuel often made from vegetable oil, but it may not be practical for personal use.The best option for an alternative fuel is hydrogen, Wayne said.It is definitely a long-term option. By 2015 or 2020, we might be able to use it, but it still wont take over gasoline. There are still several technological hurdles to pass, he said.Wayne added that the distance a hydrogen powered vehicle can travel will be an issue because of the lifespan of the fuel cells.Most hydrogen now comes from natural gas or petroleum rather than renewable sources, which would be the ultimate goal.It looks like gasoline and diesel will be our main fuels for a while, Wayne said.