Fact Check: Gas Prices Did NOT Reach National Average Of $1.87 Per Gallon In February 2021

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Gas Prices Did NOT Reach National Average Of $1.87 Per Gallon In February 2021 Not That Low

Did the price of regular gas reach a national average of $1.87 per gallon during February 2021? No, that's not true: While individual gas station prices always vary, the national average of regular gas prices during February 2021 never went lower than $2.00 per gallon. At the time of writing, the last time the national average gas price reached anywhere close to $1.87 per gallon was in early 2020.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on February 10, 2022. The post has an image of a gas station price sign with a cartoon rendering of former President Donald Trump and text that reads:

One year ago today..
Just in case you think free money is free.

The implication in the claim may have been inspired by a comment Trump made during interviews in late 2021, when he asserted that gas was in the $1.83-$1.87 per gallon range when he left office. Fact checks established that his pricing statements were not true.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook on February 17, 2022:

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 4.17.18 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 19:34 2022 UTC)

Although Lead Stories could not determine when the image featured in the Facebook post was taken, we identified the gas station in the image. The Exxon-ShopRite Market station is located in Concord, North Carolina. This screenshot from Google Maps -- with imagery from June 2021 -- shows the similarities between the station in the Facebook post image and the Exxon-ShopRite Market station, including the appearance of the gas station price sign, the air tower, the black trash can, the Highway 73 marker and the house on the opposite side of the highway:

exxon shoprite gas station google maps.png
(Source: Google Maps screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 18:49:33 2022 UTC)

On February 6, 2021, roughly one year before the Facebook post was published, the AAA Gas Prices database reported that the average price of regular gas in North Carolina was approximately $2.30 per gallon, making a supposed price of $1.87 per gallon at the Exxon-ShopRite Market gas station much lower than the state average at the time. Similarly, several organizations that track current and historical gas prices did not record February 2021 as having national average regular gas prices lower than $2.00 per gallon. The AAA Gas Prices database reported that on February 10, 2021 -- exactly a year before the Facebook post was published -- the average national price of regular gas was approximately $2.47 per gallon:

aaa gas prices.png
(Source: Internet Archive screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 17:45:46 2022 UTC)

The Energy Information Administration tracked average weekly regular gas prices during February 2021. The lowest weekly figure was approximately $2.41 per gallon, recorded on February 1, 2021:

eia gas prices feb 2021.png
(Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 15:41:22 2022 UTC)

GasBuddy, a company that tracks fuel prices, reported that in 2021, the lowest national average regular gas price was approximately $2.25 per gallon. That price was recorded on January 4, 2021:

gas buddy lowest 2021.png
(Source: GasBuddy screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 17:59:38 2022 UTC)

According to a historical gas price chart generated by GasBuddy, the last time the national average price of regular gas reached around $1.87 per gallon was in April 2020, well before the claim in the Facebook post indicates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributed this decrease in prices to "The combination of falling demand, rising supply, and diminishing storage space" of crude petroleum during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when gas prices did reach those low averages, they did not last for long: Prices were increasing to at least $2.00 per gallon by June 2020:

gasbuddy two year prices.png
(Source: GasBuddy screenshot taken on Thu Feb 17 18:01:44 2022 UTC)

Lead Stories has written several fact checks about the ever-fluctuating prices of gas. Those fact checks can be found here.

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