Gas Inflation Kicks Drivers in the Pocketbook

By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us
October 23, 2021 Updated: October 24, 2021

Gas prices are the highest they’ve been in seven years, and they’re going to keep on climbing through winter.

Across the entire United States, the current average price for a gallon of gas is $3.37. The last time it averaged $3.37 per gallon was Sept. 17, 2014, according to records kept by AAA Travel agency.

The lowest average gas price since that time was $1.76 per gallon on April 29, 2020.

“That was in the depths of the pandemic, when everyone was staying home. Demand was low globally, too, and since then, it has crept up, a penny here and a penny there,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross told The Epoch Times.

This is a reflection of how much demand affects prices. Other factors include the federal gas tax, at 18.4 cents per gallon, and state gas tax, which is highest in Pennsylvania at 58 cents per gallon and lowest in Alaska at 8 cents per gallon.

The cost of crude oil drives 50 percent to 60 percent of the cost per gallon.

“As the price of crude oil goes up, it will at the pump, as well,” Gross said. “Crude oil has gone up 24 days in a row.”

While the average gas price per gallon on Oct. 22 was $3.37 nationwide, the prices vary widely. Gas is $2.96 per gallon in Brooks County, Texas, very close to the refineries. But that’s a lot compared to 2020, when the average cost per gallon in Texas was $1.86.

The highest gas price in the country is in Mono County, California, where drivers are paying $5.30 per gallon. Mono County is far from refineries, Gross said. In 2020, California’s average gas price was $3.19 per gallon.

Based on a vehicle with a 16-gallon tank, last year in California, it cost $51.04 to fill up. Now it costs $84.80, which is $33.76 more per tank.

Oil is a global commodity. It is bought, sold, and traded on a global basis,” Gross said. “During the depths of COVID, production was slashed everywhere, and we have not recovered from that. When the price dropped into negative barrel territory, there wasn’t an incentive to produce oil.”

Some people capped their wells, he said.

“It’s a temporary lag, but a painful lag. It’s going to take a while for production to catch up with demand,” Gross said. “With the U.S. economy recovering compared to a year ago, oil production is still below pre-pandemic levels.”

And with a cold winter expected, more oil will go toward heating homes, keeping demand high.

Demand is higher now, but production hasn’t caught up.

The cost for a barrel of oil was $63 in August, and now it’s $83. That’s driving the cost up, but also getting producers more interested in producing.

“I don’t really see relief at the pump any time soon,” Gross said. “There is no shortage of oil or gasoline in the country. Consumers are just paying more at the pump, unfortunately.”

Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us