OPINION: Gas prices aren’t partisan, direct blame to guilty parties
National gas prices are the highest they’ve been since the 2008 recession, accounting for inflation, reaching $4.30 per gallon on average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Consumers are ablaze, often placing sole blame on federal leadership, ignoring other responsible parties.
You may have seen the stickers at the gas pump with President Joe Biden pointing a finger at the price screen followed by text stating “I did that!” Then there’s the tweets, thousands of angry consumers arguing over whether or not the president is to blame for rising gas.
Biden’s misstep at a May 23 press conference in Japan, wherein he claimed the rising gas prices were a part of an “incredible transition” away from fossil fuels, only fanned the flame. Biden quickly backpedaled, but the damage was done.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took to Sean Hannity’s show on Monday night to voice his, and others, contempt for this comment. He claimed Biden wants Americans to get rid of their pickup trucks and minivans in favor of Priuses and Teslas.
While Biden’s administrative choices to shift from fossil fuels to green energy have impacted gas prices, he is not the sole responsible party in the up in price. Consumers must also turn a critical eye to the energy companies directly benefiting from huge per-gallon sums.
The global cost of gas per gallon is an average of about $5.13 in U.S. dollars, 16% higher than in the states alone, according to Global Petrol Prices. The U.S. is not suffering price hikes alone, so national government can’t be the only factor.
The slowed oil production by COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have both contributed considerably to increased gas prices, according to a May 2022 Kiplinger report.
Despite these setbacks and the crushing prices for consumers, energy companies seem unmoved to make haste in increasing production, thus continuing the increase in gas prices.
Oil companies are slowly drilling more wells and working new rigs, but they’re also limiting how much they invest in new production so they can reward investors with larger dividends and stock purchases, according to the Kiplinger report.
In the first three months of the year, Chevron’s profits rose 33%, Shell’s jumped 42% and British Petroleum’s soared 51% as compared to the last three months of 2021, according to a May 2022 CBS News report.
“Oil companies are making a lot of money by going along for the ride. They’re selling their oil at the market price,” Berkely economist Severin Borenstein said in the report.
Energy companies are drawing out the price hike, crushing consumers to increase profit margins.
Despite Biden’s shortcomings, he is passing policies to limit the swelling of gas prices. The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act passed in the House with a vote of 217-207 on May 19, seeking to lower gas prices by cracking down on price gouging of gas.
No Republican supported the bill, so it’s likely to fail in the Senate.
Making gas prices a purely partisan issue is counterintuitive. It prevents effective conversation and policy to resolve the issue. Instead, consumers and politicians should turn a critical eye to those directly benefiting from the increase to demand incremental change.