Gas prices have mostly been going up since they bottomed out at $1.87 a gallon last April when the coronavirus pandemic hit. But gas prices reached $2.72 by the end of last month in February; that’s a sharp increase in about 10 months, according to federal data.
As we all know, gas prices usually have a seasonal component that affects whether the prices will go up or down. The demand rises during the summer when Americans are traveling more and falls during the colder months. What drives the current rise in fuel prices are laws requiring more expensive gasoline formulations during the summer in order to limit emissions.
Politifact reports that on a “short-time horizon,” gas prices depend mostly on global supply and demand. On the supply side, voluntary production cuts have been made, which has the effect of raising prices for their global clients.
On top of that, U.S. companies are not investing as much in finding new sources of oil due to the lower oil prices over the past year. Additionally, there is pressure to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
The slow but steady economic recovery our country has been making is the biggest factor in the recent price spike. The coronavirus pandemic stopped most travel last year, but many traveling restrictions have been lifted since, inducing this gas price surge.
While some media outlets are saying that this is the highest that gas prices have been “in years,” Politifact points out that, in fact, “today’s prices are the highest they’ve been in about 18 months…Prices were higher than today for all of the time between March 2018 and November 2018, and all of the time between April 2019 and August 2019.”