By Senator Lena C. Taylor
There’s likely no place in the nation that hasn’t felt the pain at the pump. Okay, maybe not Electric Vehicle owners, but that’s another column. For the millions of U.S. drivers that have not made the switch, there have been real life decisions made between filling up the tank and paying a bill. As we stand their watching our life savings evaporate with every click of the pump, we can’t help but be angry with someone. But the real question is who? Who is to blame for the rising prices?
Any easy target is U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration. Others might cross the Arctic Ocean to blame Vladimir Putin and Russia. Others will question why we can’t just drill for more oil. In frustration, many point the finger at corporate greed. However, we have to understand that there is no singular or easy answer to this question.
First, let’s be honest. High gas prices are a problem around the world. Many countries have been paying anywhere from $6 to $8 per gallon, for some time now. And yes, Putin’s attack on Ukraine is a factor and there are some companies taking advantage of consumers. Refiners are reportedly seeing record profits and are nearly doubling their typical margins per gallon over last year.
We also know that there is less capacity to turn oil into gasoline in the United States and the global cost of crude oil is constantly rising. Lastly, we can’t dismiss the driving habits of Americans. We’re not really thrifty in our gas consumption.
Yet even in identifying those factors, getting to a solution is neither simple nor quick. A hard truth is that there isn’t a law or bill that Congress could pass that could really address the increased prices. Neither Congress nor the White House can control the price of oil. We have gas taxes that can be removed to lessen the burden, but real change involves global partners.
In the meantime, I appreciate the work done by the Biden Administration to reduce the prices we are facing. Biden is releasing an average of one million barrels of oil per day from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He secured commitments from global partners to release a combined 240 billion barrels of oil, as well. These actions are not just helping the U.S., but is keeping prices from surging even higher.
In the last 35 days, we have seen gas prices decline by as much as 50 cents per gallon in some states. We are creeping down below $4 and wholesale gas prices are down by a dollar as well. Those decreases will reduce our costs at the pump, in our grocery and retail stores, and across a number of industries. In pressuring companies to bring prices down, we are getting a little breathing room.
However, we may not be out of the woods for a while. Understanding that there are incentives for the players not to come to the table. Record profits, power, jobs and supply and demand drive this issue. But we don’t have to be held hostage by these budget busting gas prices. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing your speed by 5 to 10 mph can improve fuel economy by 7%–14%. Manage your trips, carpool, and consider public transportation. We can do something to help ourselves!