Gas prices reached a new record on Wednesday as they maintain their upward swing after Memorial Day, which is the traditional spring peak. According to AAA, the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $4.95. The average price is $5.72 for a gallon of diesel, another record.
As the nationwide average for regular unleaded approaches $5 per gallon, residents in 17 states and the District of Columbia are already facing steeper prices. Californians are paying an average of $6.39 per gallon. Analysts at JPMorgan Chase predict a nationwide average of $6.20 by August.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, a potential post-midterm replacement for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, regurgitated the White House line blaming Russia as the primary culprit for rising prices.
“This is, in large part, caused by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s aggression,” Raimondo told CNN, citing gas prices rising more than $1.40 since the Russia-Ukraine war began. Never mind that gas prices were already climbing well before Putin’s attack.
According to AAA, the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded the day before Russia launched its invasion was $3.54, up from $2.65 the same day one year prior. Now gas prices are more than double what they were the month Biden took office in January of last year, when the national average was $2.42 per gallon. The spike in prices is a direct consequence of the administration’s continued animosity toward domestic energy projects involving fossil fuels.
“The president is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas,” Raimondo said, after Biden ordered the “unprecedented” release of 1 million barrels of oil from the strategic oil reserves for 180 days to little effect. “The reality is that there isn’t much more to be done.”
Last month, Biden even celebrated rising gas prices as “an incredible transition” during a trip to Japan. “When it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels,” Biden said.
Beyond sticker shock at the pump, Americans are coping with inflation rising at its fastest pace in four decades. Overall energy prices were up more than 30 percent in April compared to last year, according to the Department of Labor.
To accelerate the transition from fossil fuels, even in the face of reliability obstacles presented by the alternative wind and solar, Biden announced a push toward solar, waiving tariffs on panels and invoking the Defense Production Act.
Promoting solar power, however, will do little for Americans facing astronomical gas prices and the ripple effects across the economy due to higher costs of transportation and production. Meanwhile, adding more solar to the energy mix raises the risk of routine blackouts on the power grid, which is already forecast to suffer periodic outages this summer.