THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – The national average price of a gallon of gasoline is making a steady march toward $5, a threshold nine states have already breached.
Overnight, gas prices spiked another six cents nationwide, according to AAA. American motorists are paying on average $4.82 a gallon as of Saturday. A week ago, the average was $4.60, but prices have only risen every day since then.
Motorists in nine states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – are now paying more than $5 a gallon. The average price in california stands at $6.297, while in Santa Barbara County the average cost is $6.235.
If recent trends continue – and there’s no reason to think they won’t – several other states will join the $5 club soon, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and others.
A month ago, the average cost of a gallon of gas across the U.S. was $4.23. A year ago, it was $3.05. Prices have risen $1.77 a gallon on average since then.
Diesel gas prices also hit a new record Saturday, reaching a national average price of $5.62. Rising energy costs are in part driving 40-year-high inflation, where the cost of everything, from food to clothing to other household items are rising.
As gas prices rise, consumer consumption is dropping. Consumption has declined at a rate of 3% to 5% the past seven weeks, according to DataTrek, suggesting that the high costs are affecting consumer’s behavior.
The prices have a political cost, as well, drawing fresh criticism for President Joe Biden’s energy policies, in particular his blocking of new oil leases and pipeline development, and other regulations on the oil and gas industry.
“Joe Biden said he can’t ‘click a switch’ to make gas prices go down, but he clicked a switch to make them go up,” said Daniel Turner, executive director of the energy workers advocacy group, Power the Future.
News-Press Associate Editor Matt Smolensky contributed to this report.