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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson July 6, 2017
Manuela Tobias
By Manuela Tobias July 6, 2017

Is Donald Trump right that gas prices are now lowest in over 10 years?

All presidents like to tout their policy accomplishments, and Donald Trump is no exception.

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

We are fairly certain we know what Trump meant to say. But that's not what he said. (The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article.)

What Trump likely meant to say

On the one hand, the American Automobile Association told PolitiFact that gasoline prices on Independence Day weekend were the lowest they have been 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 benefitting."

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.

What Trump actually said

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 last decade-plus have gas prices been lower.

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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 last 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.

Trump's role in gas prices

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 tweeted, "Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years!"

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

As such,we rate the statement Mostly False.

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Mostly False
"Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years!"
a tweet
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Our Sources

Donald Trump, tweet, July 4, 2017

Energy Information Administration, "Weekly U.S. Regular All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices (Dollars per Gallon)," accessed July 5, 2017

Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation calculator, accessed July 5, 2017

Email interview with Jonathan Cogan, U.S. Energy Information Administration spokesman, July 5, 2017

Email interview with Jeanette Casselano, spokesperson for the American Automobile Association, July 5, 2017

Interview with Philip Verleger, head of the energy consulting firm PKVerleger LLC, July 5, 2017

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Is Donald Trump right that gas prices are now lowest in over 10 years?

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