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Holiday cheer: gas prices sinking to lowest levels in years

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If your holiday plans involve driving to grandmother's house, you might find a bit of good cheer at the gas pump.

As KSTP reports, Minnesota's average price for a gallon of unleaded has dropped by 25 cents in a month, and is now only four pennies above the three dollar threshold. Not since January of 2011 has the statewide average fallen below the $3 mark, the station reports.

And Minnesota's price drops are typical of what's happening around the country. The Associated Press reports the Lundberg Survey released Sunday showed the national average has fallen 15 cents in three weeks and now sits at $3.22 a gallon.

Similarly, a Los Angeles Times story says AAA reports seven straight weeks of price declines.

Why the price drop? It seems mostly due to that ol' economic standby, supply and demand. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. is producing more oil than at any time since March of 1989. Drilling techniques that pull more oil out of shale formations are part of that, the report says.

The L.A. Times story also notes that demand has trailed off. Some of that is seasonal -- Americans tend to drive less in the cold weather months. And some of it is due to the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the newspaper reports.

There's evidence, though, that low prices may have Americans turning back to vehicles that guzzle. AOL Autos reported last week on a University of Michigan study showing the average fuel economy of cars sold in September declined. The researchers also see a drop in sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, with sales of the Chevy Volt down 32 percent compared to a year earlier.

You can look up current gas prices in your county or zip code through

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