Gas Prices Rise After Weeks of Decline

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The national average price of a gallon of gas today is $4.12, according to AAA. Last Friday, that same figure stood at $4.07. The increase comes after a month of steadily decreasing prices.

“We’ve now seen the national average price of gasoline decline every week for the last month, a feat we most likely would not have expected ahead of summer and given the continued turns in Russia’s war on Ukraine,” says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy.

Prices peaked at a record $4.33 per gallon in early March, shortly after Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Analysts say that war is still playing a role in the latest round of increases, as European governments have entertained restrictions on Russian oil exports.

Related: How Much Do Rising Gas Prices Actually Cost You?

But the biggest factor driving new price increases? Americans are driving more.

AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross notes that people tend to increase their driving “as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer.”

What Governments Have Done

Governments have taken several steps to try to get the price at the pump under control. The White House has begun releasing about 1 million barrels of oil per day from America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve for sale.

Americans burn 15 to 20 million barrels per day for all purposes, about half of it for automotive gasoline.

The White House has also authorized refiners to add up to 15% ethanol to their products, rather than the usual 10%, this summer. That move will increase air pollution but stretch the existing supply of gasoline.

Some states, meanwhile, have temporarily paused gas taxes to reduce the price residents pay.

Consuming Less Would Have the Biggest Impact

But analysts have said nothing but “demand destruction” – using less gasoline – will ultimately decrease prices. Americans have begun shopping for more fuel-efficient cars, with interest in electric vehicles, hybrids, and fuel-efficient small cars surging since the war in Ukraine began.

Related: Buy Now, Pay Later Gasoline?

For most of the past month, that appeared to be happening. But the lure of summer temperatures is proving more persuasive than the price at the pump.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Americans burned roughly 8.9 million barrels of gasoline in the week ending April 16 – the first time that figure has increased in a month, though still lower than the 9.1 million barrels we used one year ago.

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