Gasoline prices dropped in late 2008 because President Bush lifted an offshore drilling moratorium
The decrease in oil prices in 2008-09 was due to the global economic slowdown
In July 2008, at a time of record high gasoline prices, Bush lifted the executive offshore drilling moratorium first instituted by his father. Bush used the announcement to pressure the Democratic-controlled Congress to lift its own long-standing ban on offshore drilling. As Reuters reported at the time, the action was "a largely symbolic bid unlikely to have any short-term impact on high gasoline costs." The article noted, "The U.S. Energy Department's forecasting arm has said opening the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico regions to drilling 'would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.'"
A February 2009 Washington Post article reported:
The overwhelming cause of the collapse in oil prices has been the faltering world economy, which has fueled the drop in consumption. Oil use in China, which most forecasters a year ago assumed would be the engine for increasing global demand, has screeched to a halt.