First, the good news: the U.S. energy sector is being modernized at a breakneck pace, with cleaner and cheaper fuels predicted to drive down prices and to eventually reduce the economy's dependency on foreign oil.
Now, the bad news: Though the domestic energy boom is yielding some economic benefits for consumers now, it's unlikely to result in lower oil and gasoline prices anytime soon—even as consumers struggle at the pump.
The growing flows of natural gas and alternative fuels are just beginning to work their way through the world's largest economy. Economists contend that those sources are helping to support growth, primarily by whittling down the U.S. trade deficit as the country imports less oil, by creating domestic jobs, and by putting downward pressure on energy costs.
(Read More: Can Natural Gas Become the New Gasoline?)
But for many consumers, those price savings have yet to materialize in the place it could have the most discernible impact—at the gas pump.
A big part of the reason is because gas prices are closely tied to oil markets, where prices are largely determined by global factors such as tensions in the Middle East, as well as demand from other major economies.