I have been periodically noting that any declines in gas prices since President Biden announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have been small and slow — probably having a marginal or minimal impact on most Americans’ cost of living.
On November 24, one day after Biden announced the release, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.39. This morning, it is $3.28 — roughly eleven cents per gallon lower after about a month, but still darn high by historical standards.
In the near term, conflicting forces are keeping prices about the same, in the forecast of the American Automobile Association. An Omicron-driven economic slowdown should reduce demand, which should, in theory, lower prices. But that factor is countered by last Thursday’s fire at the ExxonMobil Corporation refinery in Baytown, Texas, the fourth-largest refining and petrochemical facilities in the United States.
In the longer term . . . 2022 may well end up being worse than 2021 for cash-strapped drivers:
A new GasBuddy forecast . . . predicts the national average will rise to $3.41 a gallon in 2022, up from $3.02 a gallon this year.
The GasBuddy forecast, shared exclusively with CNN, projects prices at the pump will peak nationally at a monthly average of $3.79 in May, before finally retreating below current levels by late 2022.
“We could see a national average that flirts with, or in a worst-case scenario, potentially exceeds $4 a gallon,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices, demand and outages.
That would amplify the inflationary pressures hitting American families grappling with the biggest price spikes in nearly 40 years. And it would add to the White House’s political headaches.
No kidding, CNN! A better and wiser administration would recognize that as bad as things are now, they’re looking at an even worse spring and summer unless they start pulling out all the stops to lower gas prices now. Whining about OPEC, or begging those countries to produce more oil, is useless. The only things that bring prices down are increases in supply or reductions in demand. Unless the Biden administration wants to deal with apoplectically angry American drivers all summer heading into the 2022 midterms, they need to expand permits for drilling on American-owned land, reconsider canceled pipeline projects, and send every signal possible to the world oil markets that the U.S. intends to increase its domestic oil production, not stymie it in the name of fighting climate change.
But considering the track record of this administration, this coming spring and summer we’re likely to get President Biden insisting no one saw incredibly high gasoline prices coming . . . just as no one saw the Afghan army collapsing, no one saw inflation coming, no one saw the supply-chain crisis coming, no one saw the labor shortage coming, no one saw the surge of migrants at the border coming, or . . . you get the idea.
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