During a press briefing Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki attributed the 40% surge in gas prices across the United States to seasonal fluctuations, citing that they historically see upticks during the summer months.
In response to a reporter’s question noting how the higher cost of fuel has burdened many families’ transportation budgets, Psaki touted the administration’s progress in eliminating COVID, which she claimed has resuscitated consumer demand for travel, contributing to higher gas prices. The average price of gasoline now sits at $3.14, the reporter added.
“Gas prices do historically rise in the summer, and that’s particularly true in moments like this when there’s a spike in people traveling and even more people are hitting the road now because of our success in defeating the pandemic,” Psaki said.
“In the last ten years pre-pandemic for example, the average price of gas in July is nearly 30 cents higher than it is in January,” she added.
Psaki’s comments dismissing the gas price increase come as inflation fears loom for many American businesses and households. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tracks the cost of a variety of goods in the average consumer basket as well as housing and energy prices, jumped in May at the fastest annual rate since August 2008, the Labor Department said last month.
Numerous sectors of the economy have experienced inflationary pressures, at least partially because of market disequilibrium stemming from pandemic-induced supply squeezes and production bottlenecks.
The recent ransomware attack by Russian cybercriminals on the Colonial Pipeline rendered the entire network of out commission for days, cutting off roughly 45 percent of all of fuel consumed along the east coast. The hack, which created a temporary gas shortage and sent Americans flocking to gas stations to panic-buy, exacerbated the forces already driving prices up.
In early May, AAA pegged the average gallon at $2.99, a figure which has since risen 15 cents in the span of two months, heightening concerns that inflation may not be a transitory phenomenon for this year.