As Americans brace for high Memorial Day temperatures, they will also have to contend with high prices at the pump.
Gas prices hit $4.62 per gallon on Monday — marking the highest Memorial Day gas prices in more than a decade, as reported by AAA. Americans are thus paying nearly 11% more than the $4.18 prices that prevailed a month ago — as well as 53% higher than the $3.03 prices from Memorial Day last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Against a backdrop of gas prices that have continued to set new records ahead of Memorial Day, Americans have been resilient in their desire to hit the road, but we’re certainly seeing increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNBC.
Gas prices for Memorial Day 2022 are even more severe than those seen in recent memory. Americans were paying $1.96 on Memorial Day 2020 when driving activity was still depressed due to COVID-19 lockdowns — meaning that Americans are paying 136% more for gas than they were two years ago. Even before the lockdowns, gas prices were roughly $2.85 on Memorial Day 2019 — meaning that today’s prices are 62% higher than equivalent pre-pandemic levels.
A poll from Yahoo released earlier this month showed that 66% of American drivers would make “significant changes to their driving patterns” if the national average cost of gasoline lies between $4.12 and $4.35 per gallon.
“I started riding my motorcycle as my main mode of transportation, instead of just recreationally,” Alexis Hornickel of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, told The Daily Wire last week. “I’m a student, so I have a very limited budget. My gas expenses just weren’t justifiable anymore.”
The poll likewise showed that 62% of Americans are willing to limit their vehicle usage to necessities — such as doctor visits and grocery shopping — if the price of gasoline hits $4.35 per gallon. While 41% plan to only fill their gas tanks with what is affordable, 35% are increasing their reliance on public transportation and 29% are canceling summer road trips.
The Biden administration — which has nixed expansions to the Keystone XL Pipeline and dragged its feet on issuing oil and gas permits — claims that higher fuel costs may help the United States transition more quickly to renewable energy.
When asked about “enormously high gas prices” at a press conference last week, President Joe Biden said: “When it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.”
Biden also pointed to his decisions to release millions of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as successful in stopping gas prices from “getting even worse.”
“The price of gas at the pump is something that I told you — you heard me say before — it would be a matter of great discussion at my kitchen table when I was a kid growing up. It’s affecting a lot of families,” Biden said.
Likewise, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm contended last week that soaring gas prices are an “exclamation point” to transition away from fossil fuels.
“No one has ever weaponized access to the sun,” Granholm said, referencing Russia’s move to cancel energy exports or demand that shipments be paid in Russian rubles. “No one has ever weaponized access to wind. The way we are energy secure is to build homegrown clean energy, and other countries are looking to that as well.”