Gas prices have been gradually rising throughout the year in 2021, as the pandemic has receded and more Americans are doing more driving. Those rose even further earlier in May when the Colonial Pipeline shutdown led to a supply crunch in parts of the country. These factors led to the average price of regular gas exceeded $3 for the first time since 2014.
However, experts are saying that while gas prices will certainly be higher this summer than they were in the pandemic summer of 2020, their upward movement hasn’t been constant.
GasBuddy predicted last week that the average price of gasoline will go back down below $3 prior to Memorial Day.
“The national average is expected to be $2.98 on Memorial Day, and likely to stay in the upper $2 per gallon range or even low $3 per gallon range as we approach midsummer, should gasoline demand rise to near-record levels,” GasBuddy’s Head of Petroleum Analysis, Patrick De Haan, said in a Q&A published to the website this week.
“Summer tends to be higher in terms of price and it’s simply because more people are on the road during summer. Due to the huge drop in demand last year for oil and the massive drop in price, oil producers greatly scaled back, but didn’t plan on demand bouncing back so much this year, so supply has not matched the rise in demand, a factor that could raise summer prices higher this year than recent years, until oil producers start ramping back up,” DeHaan said in the same Q&A.
Meanwhile, one member of Congress has proposed federal action on gas prices. According to the Carlsbad Current-Angus, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican from New Mexico, has proposed temporarily suspending federal gas taxes. The Pausing Unrelenting Markups on Petroleum (PUMP) Act would “eliminate the 18.4 percent federal gas tax until all COVID-19 emergency health orders were lifted or for six months after the law is enacted, depending on which is longer,” the newspaper said.
In early 2008, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, both U.S. senators who were running for president, proposed a federal gas tax holiday, per Reuters. Economists argued at the time such a move would merely increase demand, with most of the benefits going into the pockets of oil companies. Barack Obama, who was also a senator and presidential candidate at the time, opposed the measure; it never became law.
That summer, gas prices surged to as high as $4, much higher than they are today, although they would plunge later that year due to the global economic meltdown, going below $2 by November.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.