US gas prices reached a record high Tuesday, as President Joe Biden said fighting inflation is his top domestic priority.
The average price at the pump hit US$4.37 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), surpassing the last record of US$4.33 set on March 11.
The average price per gallon a year ago was US$2.97.
“Gasoline and diesel (hit) a record high today” in data that has not been adjusted to remove inflation effects, said Andy Lipow, an analyst at Lipow Oil Associates.
The cost of gas has been following the global rise in crude oil prices as “the world seeks to find alternative supply to Russian oil,” he said.
Crude prices were already on the up-and-up as inflation hit the economy’s recovery from Covid-19. But prices skyrocketed after Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February, leading many global leaders to impose sanctions on Russia.
“With the cost of oil accounting for more than half of the pump price, more expensive oil means more expensive gasoline,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said Monday. The price of oil currently stands at around US$100 per barrel.
The record-high prices are upsetting Americans, as they come on top of a general 8.5% price increase compared to March 2021.
The public discontent has pushed the Biden administration to try to address inflation.
“Americans have never seen gasoline prices this high, nor have we seen the pace of increases so fast and furious,” said Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at specialist site GasBuddy. “It’s a dire situation and won’t improve anytime soon.”
Biden assured Americans Tuesday that his administration was doing everything it could to bring down prices without slowing economic activity.
He recalled that the US will release one million barrels of oil from emergency reserves per day for the next six months, to offset the surging oil costs.
“Republicans have offered plenty of blame but not a single solution to actually bring down the energy prices,” Biden said Tuesday.
But the White House has not yet opted to suspend the 18-cents-per-gallon federal tax to relieve pump prices.
That would be “the quickest way to give the consumer some price relief,” said Lipow. “But other than that, there are very limited options that the administration can take to increase the supply of oil immediately and temper prices.”
He estimated that gas prices will rise another 10 cents per gallon in the coming days, especially as the US enters its summer travel season.
“We do anticipate very good demand as Americans take to the road having been stuck at home for most of the last two years,” he said.