So much for reviving the idea of processing oil shale in Utah. Oh, and you can forget about those ridiculous one-day gas boycotts.

And those pumps that automatically shut off when your debit card reaches $49.99? Don't worry about telling station managers to recalibrate them, unless you want to pull your big-rig up to the pump.

President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to put an end to the idea of drilling for oil in areas that are too close to Utah's national parks and other sensitive lands. He could have saved his breath. Drilling no longer is a smart investment.

Gas is back down to less than $2 a gallon.

It's still falling. And just as fast, all the anger and suspicion seems to be dissipating into the air like gasoline vapors.

Last July, Rep. Rob Bishop told the Deseret News editorial board that expensive gasoline was focusing Congress the way Pearl Harbor once did. Liberals and conservatives were beginning to see offshore drilling as a patriotic duty.

Now we can yawn about all that as we plan the next family road trip in the SUV. It's as if Emperor Hirohito had quickly issued an apology and surrendered.

And that huge wind-generator project T. Boone Pickens was planning in the Texas desert — the one that was supposed to produce 4,000 megawatts and provide enough juice to power cars and wean us off oil? Forget about it. "Not economical," he told CNN last week. With oil and natural gas prices in a free fall, wind can't compete.

You could say the same for those state investigations Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. once launched to figure out why gas prices in Utah were so high. That seems about as useful now as going after oil speculators. After all, the speculators are now pushing prices down. Market forces are great when they work in your favor.

Meanwhile, you can be sure the nation's enemies and pseudo-enemies in places like Iran, Russia and Venezuela are not enjoying the ride. Low gas prices cut deeply into their riches and make it harder for dictators to prop themselves up politically.

It is, indeed, amazing to see how the world changes when gasoline prices fall.

But those changes aren't permanent. They don't solve long-term problems. And that's what is frightening.

The bad news is that the $1.96 gas you can buy along the Wasatch Front as I write (it likely will be lower when you read this) will take our eyes off the nation's dependence on oil. It will make alternative fuels financially unfeasible.

Too many Americans don't understand supply and demand. When gas prices rise, they quickly blame "oil barons," as if market forces were irrelevant and oil companies were run by the black-caped undead.

They should instead be looking at the world's oil-rich and belligerent nations with concern. They should imagine a world in which those regimes are impoverished and powerless, then work to make that happen.

When prices were rising, it took a while for Americans to cut back on driving. Not until gas hit $3 a gallon did demand begin to fall.

Now, reports are that demand is not rising despite falling prices. Most likely, that's due to the failing economy. Or maybe some of us feel just a little shaky about getting too addicted to oil again.

This would be a good time for the new president to announce an energy policy that tries to keep the momentum going toward alternative fuels despite falling prices. It should not be a time to make oil extraction in the United States and along its shores off-limits in the future.

Bishop was right. High prices focused Washington. We should not lose that focus.

Meanwhile, if prices keep falling, don't be surprised if Exxon, Chevron and Conoco get in line behind General Motors for some of that bailout money.

Lower gas prices really do turn the world on its head.

Jay Evensen is editor of the Deseret News editorial page. Email: [email protected]. Visit his blog at