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Will cheaper gas nix energy reforms?

If prices keep dropping, the next president may find it harder to ease the US off foreign oil.

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Jack MacDonald, a retired law enforcement officer, watched with bemusement – and some concern – as the Irving and Mobil gas stations on Route 1 in North Hampton, N.H., engaged in a bona fide price war this weekend.

All day Friday, their prices fell, both ending the day at $2.09 a gallon, not far off the national low of $1.93 at Casey's gas station in Altoona, Iowa, just outside Des Moines. Cars lined up seven deep at one pump. "It's a relief for us drivers," says Mr. MacDonald, a Democrat. "But it's suspicious that it's happening this close to Election Day. Who's controlling it, and why?"

Great questions. The factors behind the 50 percent price drop are myriad and complex, ranging from basic supply and demand to a renewed effort by oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, perhaps in order to undercut calls by both presidential candidates for US energy independence within a decade.

Does the low cost of flying, transporting goods, and getting to the store mean that the biggest incentive for energy reform is evaporating?

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