shallow focus photo of shell gas station
Photo by Szabolcs Toth on

It’s not a mirage and there’s nothing wrong with your eyes – gasoline prices in the D.C. area and across the U.S. are breaking record highs not seen since July 2008.

And according to AAA, we can expect the current national average price per gallon, now hovering at $4, to continue to climb and hit an all-time high in the days ahead. 

The surging prices could not have come at a more inopportune time as more citizens venture outdoors and beyond their homes, buoyed by the optimism that the pandemic is seemingly under control. And with the Memorial Day weekend approaching and with schools poised to close for the summer, millions of Americans had hopes of heading to their favorite destinations for fun and relaxation.

Economists say gas prices have been escalating in the past few months because of higher demand. However, the recent spike can be largely attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has led to concerns of oil supply deficits and disruptions. 

Everyone’s feeling the pain at the pump and while President Biden has promised to attack inflation and the unprecedented rise in prices for gasoline, food, rent and other essentials, he simply cannot wave a magic wand and resolve the situation. 

For the moment, if you live in the D.C. area, you may want to buy your gas in Maryland where the average price per gallon is a bit cheaper than in the District – but avoid Montgomery County which has the highest price in the state. Northern Virginia also appears to be a good bet with prices lower than both Maryland or the District – as long as you steer clear of Fairfax or Alexandria. You may also want to use an app like GasBuddy to find stations with the lowest prices near you. 

But unless Congress works with the president in a collaborative effort, these surging prices for gasoline and many other commodities and essentials will be with us for some time. 

“I don’t see this resolving itself until 2023 at the earliest, when more refining capacity comes online in the Middle East and Asia,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently suggested that Biden reverse some of the tax breaks for the middle-class in order to confront inflation. Clearly, he’s not in touch with the needs of or day-to-day challenges faced by the majority of Americans. As for those Americans who rejoiced following the increase in the minimum wage, their celebration has been derailed by surging costs. 

For the record, and contrary to prevalent myths that are floating around on social media, drilling for more oil in the U.S. would not lower gas prices because it’s the global price of oil that sets the price of gas. Second, the Biden administration has issued more permits for drilling, around 34% more, than Trump did in his first year, so the rise in gas prices cannot be blamed on Biden banning oil drilling. It would also be incorrect to say that Biden’s canceling the Keystone XL pipeline caused higher gas prices – a myth that Republicans continue to promote, as it would have taken years for KXL to be fully operational. And even if the U.S. were to increase its oil and gas production, we would still be far from becoming energy independent. 

The only answer to avoiding a fluctuating global oil market and soaring gas prices is to transition to clean energy sources and the electric vehicles which run on that clean energy. 

It’s time to remove politics from the equation and simply employ common sense. We sink or swim together. 

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