The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
You've probably noticed a steady rise in the cost of gas these last few months. Since the beginning of the year, prices are up 60 percent. And with President Biden's new energy policy, some worry they'll keep climbing. Scott Thuman takes a look at what's really behind the high cost of gas.
Odds are, if you’ve been the gas station lately, you quickly noticed your dollar, doesn’t drive you as far these days. Prices have been skyrocketing.
By mid-March, Americans nationwide were paying an average of $2.83, and in places like Los Angeles, a wallet-busting $3.65 for the cheap stuff, if you can call it that.
And that’s often followed by finger pointing, over who’s to blame.
Anchor: And look at this - gas prices straight up. In the last month, we’ve gone up more than 30 cents I think
Even though the increase started late last spring, some are laying fault at the feet, of the president. Former President Trump even alleged, this, on the campaign trail:
Donald Trump: “And you’re paying, what, $2 a gallon for your gasoline? That’s okay You know what that’s like? That’s like a tax cut. That’s bigger than a tax cut. If Biden got in, you’d be paying $7, $8, $9. Then they’d say, “Get rid of your car. We’re going to build some more windmills. Kill all the birds.”
But is that fair? We asked AAA’s Jeanette McGee.
Jeanette McGee: When we look at the past 12 years of who's been in the White House, prices have gone up and down no matter who was there. Politicians don't directly impact the price of the pump in terms of saying it's going to be X amount. Now some of their decisions can influence crude prices and give the market some concern to either move up or down in terms of the price of the crude. And that's the extent you're going to see the impact of a politician impacting gas prices.
So why are we shelling out more per mile?
McGee: The price you're paying at the pump right now, and especially compared to last year has a lot to do with COVID. About a year ago, we saw demand go down drastically, and at that same time, so did the price of crude. So, gas prices were cheap. Fast forward a year later, the price of crude is increasing because of the promise of vaccination, which means more people will travel, which has increased the price of the pump and will continue to increase the price of the pump as more people get vaccinated and more consumers feel confident to travel.
At around $2.80 a gallon, the price now is well above the $2.27 average we saw a year ago. In fact, the last time prices were this high was in mid-2018.
Still, that’s a long way from the $4.11 a gallon average back in the summer of 2008 during the great recession. So how high might prices go now?
McGee: We expect Spring, so March, April, to really see the most expensive prices for the year. So as the refineries that were impacted from that Texas storm come back online, as crude hopefully starts to sustain at these prices and doesn't increase, that will bring relief to prices at the pump.
Still though, a rough sight for struggling Americans.
Reporter: Gasoline prices are approaching $3 per gallon for the first time since 2014. Americans, as you well know, are cash-strapped. Is the President planning to intervene somehow?
Psaki: I don’t have anything on that to preview for you.
Not that the president doesn’t play any role in what you fork over, to fill up...
Dana Bash: "Would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?"
Biden: "No, we would, we would work it out,"
"We would make sure it's eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either -- any fossil fuel."
While Biden many times since, has tried to clarify he won’t ban fracking he did ban new leases for drilling on federal lands, and killed the keystone pipeline extension, and it’s that so-called war on fossil fuels that analysts say could be influencing oil producers and traders to *anticipate* rising prices and take actions that reinforce those expectations. In other words, a self-fulfilling prophecy at the pumps.
Regardless of who’s to blame, odds are it’ll be a $3/gallon year, and a possible political headache for democrats, come midterms.
For Full Measure, I’m Scott Thuman.
Sharyl (on-camera): Of oil and politics, to date the Biden administration has not put pressure on oil producing countries in OPEC to increase production, which is keeping supplies low, and prices higher, at a time when the global economy is reopening and needs more oil.