A week ago, gasoline was at $4.16 a gallon in metro Atlanta. A month ago it was less than $4. And a year ago it was less than $3.
For an average driver, using about 34.5 gallons of gas each month, the difference between the price in mid-May and a month at the current level would be $16.90 more.
Politically, of course, higher prices are a nightmare, especially because a president’s power to affect them is modest at best.
Nevertheless, critics of a president often blame the White House for high gas prices, while claiming that the low prices are caused by something else. But George W. Bush was not to blame for the 2005 hurricanes and pipeline disruptions that sent prices skyrocketing. And Bill Clinton was not responsible for the increase in Saudi production that drove prices down and helped revive the economy of the 1990s.
Critics of the Biden administration have blamed policies aimed at tackling fossil fuels, which are seen as a major contributor to climate change. But experts say virtually all of these actions – such as doping part of the Keystone pipeline – have had no effect on current production. And when Biden tried to lower prices by releasing oil from the National Strategic Reserve, it didn’t have much effect.
Even efforts by states, including Georgia, to rein in prices by reducing gasoline taxes have not worked.
Also, the price of gasoline has gone up all over the world, not just in the United States. As often, experts say it’s a matter of supply and demand.
During the first months of the pandemic, millions of drivers stayed off the roads and away from airports. The price – and production – of oil in the United States and around the world have fallen. But as U.S. drivers returned to their vehicles, the ramp-up in oil production was slower.
It is easy to collect your keys.
And while it’s easy to shut down the machines, it’s slow and expensive to start drilling and fracturing again.
The world price of oil has historically accounted for the lion’s share of prices at the pump and oil prices have risen from under $75 a barrel last fall to nearly $120 a barrel now, according to Oil Price.com.
Yet there is another step on the way to the gas station and that has been a problem in the United States.
Petroleum must be refined into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel before it can be used as fuel. And a new refinery has not been built in this country for over 40 years. While many refineries have been expanded, fuel production is often just ahead of demand.
And when one of the old refineries breaks down for repairs or because of hurricane damage, it can leave the United States with a shortage of supply, which in turn sends prices skyrocketing. Existing refineries are not keeping up with demand, an executive at energy consulting firm Turner, Mason & Co. said recently. says USA Today.
Metro Atlanta, average gas prices for regular use
Tuesday, noon: $4.31
A week ago: $4.16
A month ago: $3.82
One year ago: $2.91
$4.11 (July 2008, September 2005)
Previous, highs in current dollars
Gasoline consumed by the average driver each month
Sources: Energy Information Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gas Buddy