Gas Prices Climb Again; Few Solutions in Sight

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The nationwide average price of a gallon of gas this morning, according to AAA, is $4.16. That’s 4 cents higher than a week ago.

No New Government Action

When gas prices first began to spike in early March with the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, federal and state governments took several quick steps to try to counteract the rise. But for the past week, little has been done at any level of government to address gas prices.

The White House, at the end of March, authorized the release of 1 million additional barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic stockpile for up to 6 months to try to bring prices down. It later authorized refiners to use up to 15% ethanol in gasoline even during summer months to stretch the existing gasoline supply. Gasoline is usually limited to 10% ethanol in warm weather to reduce harmful pollutants.

Several state governments took action as well, with Georgia, Maryland, and Connecticut authorizing temporary gas tax holidays to help reduce the price at the pump. Other states debated similar proposals, but none have passed. Maryland’s gas tax holiday has ended, adding back about 30 cents per gallon to the price.

The AP reports that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) met this week to discuss ways to bring down the price at the pump, but no legislation resulted from the meeting.

Meanwhile, gas and oil producers reported record profits this week. Chevron reported that its profits more than quadrupled during the first quarter of 2022, with most of the surge coming in March. Exxon Mobil Corp.’s profits doubled in the first quarter despite the company writing off $3.4 billion to cover its exit from Russian operations. It was the company’s best quarter in more than seven years.

Demand Rising Even As Prices Rise

With no end to the war in sight and no action likely from Congress, experts say that the only thing that can bring prices down is a drop in demand. Americans drove less for the first several weeks of the price surge. But with summer temperatures returning across much of the country, that trend seems to have come to an end.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that gasoline demand has now risen steadily for more than three weeks despite rising prices. Americans, it appears, are learning to live with higher gas prices.

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