WASHINGTON: US gasoline prices hit a record high on Tuesday as President Joe Biden said fighting inflation is his “top domestic priority.”
The price at the pump hit $4.37 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), beating the last record of $4.33 set on March 11.
The average price per gallon a year ago was $2.97.
“Gasoline and diesel (hit) an all-time high today” in data that has not been adjusted for the effects of inflation, 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 looks to find an alternative supply to Russian oil,” he said.
Crude prices were already rising and rising as inflation hit the economy’s recovery from Covid-19. But prices soared after Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February, prompting many world leaders to impose sanctions on Russia.
“With the cost of oil representing more than half the price at the pump, more expensive oil means more expensive gasoline,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said Monday. The price of oil is currently around 100 dollars per barrel.
The record prices are upsetting Americans as they add to an overall price increase of 8.5 percent compared to March 2021.
Public discontent has pushed the Biden administration to try to tackle inflation.
“Americans have never seen gasoline prices this high, nor have we seen such a fast and furious rate of increase,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of oil analysis at the GasBuddy trade site. “It’s a serious situation and it’s not going to get any better any time soon.”
Biden assured Americans on Tuesday that his administration was doing everything it could to lower prices without slowing economic activity.
He recalled that rich countries agreed to release an additional 120 million barrels of oil from emergency reserves, including 60 million from the United States, to offset rising oil costs.
But the White House has not yet opted to suspend the 18-cent-per-gallon federal tax to ease pump prices.
That would be “the fastest way to give the consumer some price relief,” Lipow said. “But aside from that, there are very limited options the administration can take to increase oil supply immediately and moderate prices.”
He estimated that gasoline prices will rise another 10 cents a gallon in the coming days, especially as the United States enters its summer travel season.
“We anticipate very good demand as Americans hit the road after being stuck at home for most of the last two years,” he said.