Trump hailed low price July 4, but gas price has been lower

We checked a claim about how low gasoline prices are compared to the past 10 years.

We checked a claim about how low gasoline prices are compared to the past 10 years.

On July 4, one of the major travel weekends, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years! I would like to see them go even lower.”

On the one hand, the American Automobile Association told PolitiFact that gasoline prices were the lowest they have been on Independence Day weekend in 12 years — since 2005.

“Gas prices have been declining since the beginning of June,” said Jeanette Casselano, a spokesperson for AAA. “At $2.23, today’s national gas price average is the cheapest price we’ve seen since January. “The combination of tepid demand and increasing gasoline and crude output continues to put downward pressure on gas prices, and motorists are benefiting.”

There’s value in comparing gas prices using a narrow window of time like the July 4 weekend, because comparing, for example, summer prices to winter prices is like comparing apples and oranges.

However, the way Trump phrased his tweet was more expansive. Rather than limiting the comparison to the July 4 weekend, the tweet suggests that at no point over the past decade-plus have gas prices been lower. And that would not be correct, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, a federal office.

There were 85 weeks in which gas cost less than $2.26 per gallon, the price it was at the time of Trump’s tweet. That means that for about one-sixth of the time over the past decade, gas cost less than it does now. (The EIA data does mirror AAA’s assessment for Fourth of July weekend prices.)

The Energy Information Administration's data set uses nominal dollars rather than inflation-adjusted dollars, so just to be certain, we ran the data through the federal inflation calculator to see how adjusting for inflation affected that number. The answer: 58 weeks. That's still about one-ninth of the last decade.

Then there’s the question of whether Trump deserves bragging rights. In general, presidents have rarely had a direct impact on the price of gasoline, said Philip Verleger, an economist and head of the energy consulting firm PKVerleger LLC.

“The only one who had an impact was Jimmy Carter, who instituted price controls that managed to ball up the distribution of gasoline, leading to lines at gas stations,” he said. Overall, presidents are “not a big factor” on gasoline prices, he said.

Indeed, gas cost less during much of President Barack Obama’s last year in office than it does now.

Our ruling

Trump likely meant to say that gas prices on the July 4 weekend are lower now than at any point on July 4 since 2005. But Trump tweeted something more sweeping, that gas prices haven’t been lower in more than a decade. That’s not correct.

So, we rate the statement Mostly False.

“Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years!”

— Donald Trump on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 in a tweet