The nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline reached $4.97 on Thursday in a new record, according to the AAA travel agency tracker. The cost of diesel, critical for industrial equipment and farming machinery, hit $5.74 in another new record. The rising prices mark a post-Memorial Day surge, with new highs each day throughout the month of June.
On CNN on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said there was nothing the administration could do to bring down the soaring prices.
“The reality is that there isn’t much more to be done,” Raimondo said after the administration canceled more oil and gas projects from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.
In an attempt to artificially suppress prices at the pump, Biden ordered the “unprecedented” release of 1 million barrels of oil from the nation’s emergency petroleum reserves for 180 days. The bulk of the release began on May 15, meaning the expiration of the release will fall perfectly after the November midterms as American voters simultaneously cope with sticker shock at the gas station and inflation that’s rising at its fastest pace in four decades.
The release, however, has done nothing to quell gas prices in a nation that uses 20 million barrels of oil per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. Gas prices are up nearly $2 from one year ago, but they were already on the rise after Biden’s immediate assault on the oil and gas industry.
In April, the Biden administration announced it would resume oil and gas leases on federal lands in compliance with a federal court order overturning the suspension Biden signed on his first day in office. The White House has made clear, however, that it desires to drag its feet on new land sales for drilling.
“It’s not in line with the president’s policy, which is to ban federal leasing,” then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said shortly after the announcement. “We don’t feel they are needed.”
The Department of the Interior unveiled a cascade of new taxes and regulations with the resumption of federal land leases, including an 80 percent reduction in acreage available for exploration from what was originally nominated.