President Biden has overseen a steep increase in gas prices since taking the oath of office in January.
On January 21, an average gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.33, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). By the start of this week, that figure had risen to $2.96 and today, AAA pegged the average gallon at $2.99, the highest mark since November 2014.
While it’s true that prices had already been rising when Biden took office, they were doing so more slowly and at least in part in response to increased demand from earlier in 2020, when travel grinded to a halt during the thick of the pandemic.
Making matters worse is the Colonial Pipeline hack. The pipeline, which delivers roughly 45 percent of all of fuel consumed along the east coast, was rendered inoperative for four consecutive days after being hit with a ransomware attack last week.
While the New York Times reported this morning that “since the pipeline shutdown, there have been no long lines at gasoline stations,” evidence to the contrary is mounting.
Alicia Devine, a photojournalist for the Tallahassee Democrat posted the following on Twitter Tuesday morning:
I’ve visited five gas stations this morning and the Costco one is the first to have gas.
The line is insane. pic.twitter.com/fMfuIMNlJ7
— Alicia Devine, Photojournalist (@alicia_c_devine) May 11, 2021
Mikhaya Thurmond of WRAL in North Carolina took notice of similar issues in the Tar Heel state:
WATCH: Gas lines are getting longer and prices are getting higher. This Sheetz in Fuquay Varina had a line around the corner. (Please share this: there is NO NEED to panic buy unless you’re actually out of gas) pic.twitter.com/yPFFQEFYuB
— Mikaya Thurmond (@WRALMikaya) May 11, 2021
Experts say that these initial lines and price increases are due to panic over the Colonial Pipeline attack rather than any immediate shortage, although if it remains down, areas that typically rely on it could suffer further.
“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”
The Biden administration has declined to advise Colonial’s operators on how to handle the requested ransom made by its attackers, calling it a “private sector decision.”
Continued demand increases have no doubt played a role in the gas price hike during the Biden administration, but so too has its posture toward the fossil fuel industry. Most observers expected the Biden administration to clamp down on it. They have, even going so far as to cancel the Keystone Pipeline project and thousands of jobs that would have come with it.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if she was concerned rising prices could lead to a dearth of travel during the summer months, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm insisted that “we need to get this virus under control first.”
“Why have gas prices gone up? Could that be because of the virus itself as well?” she asked Tapper. “Everything is tied together.”