The White House tried to assuage Americans' fears about rising gas prices
ahead of Memorial Day
weekend on Friday, saying prices have "stabilized" and are "well in line with what they've been in recent decades."
According to the American Automobile Association, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is now $3.04, the highest in seven years.
The higher price is being driven by a number of factors, including increased demand as more Americans get back on the road after pandemic
restrictions are lifted, as well as a shortage of tank truck drivers to deliver fuel.
, the industry's trade group, the National Tank Truck Carriers, told CNN
that 20% to 25% of tank trucks were parked due to a lack of drivers.
Industry experts have warned that, among other things, the driver shortage and the continued reopening of the US economy
could lead to potential gas shortages and thus higher prices this summer.
“This summer is going to be a tough summer at the pump for consumers,” according to industry analyst John Kilduff, who recently spoke with CNBC.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki
sought to reassure Americans that they are, in fact, “paying less in real terms for gas than they have on average over the last 15 years, and they are paying roughly the same as they did in May 2018 and May 2019.”
In both of those years, gas prices soared ahead of Memorial Day, with the average gallon of gas costing $2.97 in 2018, and around $2.80 the following year, following the largest U.S. gas price surge since 2011.
, who was president at the time, issued a statement this week lamenting today's high gas prices.
“I'm sorry to say that the gasoline prices you will face are far higher than they were just a few months ago, when we had gasoline under $2 a gallon,” he said, adding, “Remember as you watch
the meter tick and your dollars pile up, how great of a job Donald Trump did as President.”
and the Middle East
will be making a fortune on oil
, and you will be saying how lucky you were to have me as your President,” Trump continued, “Wasn’t it great to be energy
independent, but we are no longer energy independent. Shame, shame, shame.
lawmakers have blamed the Biden administration
for the recent increase in gas prices, which economists have largely identified as a primary cause, according to The Washington Post
More than 34 million Americans are expected to drive this Memorial Day weekend, with the majority of them facing the highest gas prices in seven years https://t.co/AzQEGP6vai
pic.twitter.com/H9xz3uiP9i — Reuters (@Reuters) May 28, 2021
Psaki acknowledged that gas prices have risen since last year, when demand plummeted due to the pandemic, but added that current prices are "still well in line with what they've been in recent decades."
Psaki went on to say that gas prices had “stabilized” as a result of the reopening of the Colonial Pipeline
, which had been shut down earlier this month due to a crippling cyberattack.
Colonial Pipeline was one of the country's largest pipeline operators, and its closure caused fuel shortages
throughout the Southeast.
The Colonial Pipeline is now “fully flowing, and the supply situation has returned to normal,” according to Psaki, who added, “in part due to the administration’s aggressive, whole-of-government response to the unprecedented shutdown of that pipeline.”
Psaki went on to say that President Joe Biden
understands how much of a "pain point" gas prices can be for Americans.
“That is why President Biden opposes any proposals to raise the gas tax, and it is why we will continue to monitor prices, and we are glad that Americans can get back on the road,” she said.
Over the upcoming holiday weekend, millions of Americans are expected to travel by car and by plane.
AAA estimates that more than 37 million people
will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend, a 60% increase from last year's Memorial Day weekend, with the majority of these travelers (34 million) driving.