U.S. gas prices this fall are likely to be the cheapest nationwide in four years, thanks in part to greater U.S. crude oil production, more fuel-efficient cars and loosened environmental regulations as the warm weather gives way to autumn, analysts say.
The current GasBuddy.com national average has fallen to $3.38 a gallon, the lowest price since Feb. 22, the company said in a press release Tuesday. The company predicts U.S. average prices will fall to between $3.15 and $3.25 a gallon, and some retailers in up to 30 states could lower their prices below the $3.00 mark in time for the Christmas shopping season.
That's good news for the economy, as lower gas prices could provide a "catalyst" for consumer spending, the company said.
Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, told FoxNews.com on Tuesday that prices typically decline after the summer driving season, as the federal government loosens its environmental quality restrictions due to fewer cars on the road. But what has especially benefited gas prices this year has been a continuing increase in U.S. crude production and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
"We've had an absolute energy boom in the United States," Laskoski said. "Domestic fuel production is at the highest level since 1986."
Even the recent turmoil in the Middle East -- typically a cause of higher gas prices -- hasn't dampened the good mood at the pump. Laskoski said that although the U.S. and its allies are engaging in a broader fight against the Islamic State, analysts believe that the coalition will make protecting Iraq's oil infrastructure a top priority -- which means they're not too worried about prices escalating this season.
Going forward, Laskoski believes advancements in U.S. energy production, most notably in crude oil and natural gas production, will keep prices down -- even if challenges of transporting energy, such as having enough trains and pipelines, remain.
"The resources underground have us well fortified for the next several decades, at least," Laskoski said. "But what needs to catch up is the infrastructure to bring the resources to the market at the right time."