If you thought being on the road this past Labor Day weekend was unusually expensive, then you would be right

Photo Credit: Getty

This August, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data going back to 1991, regular retail gasoline prices reached $3.84 per gallon. This marked the second-highest August price during that time span, with last August surpassing it at $3.98 per gallon. These last two Augusts almost certainly represent the highest August prices ever in the United States.

Drivers are becoming all too familiar with high gas prices. Since February 2022, the price has been above $3.50 per gallon for 15 out of the last 19 months. The last time the price was $3.50 per gallon or more was in 2014.

Diesel retail prices are also extremely high based on EIA data going back to 1994. This August was the second highest August price during that time at $4.37 per gallon. Last year saw the highest August price at $5.01. Like with regular retail gasoline, these are almost certainly the highest August diesel prices ever.

High gas prices hamper the mobility of all Americans and they have a disproportionate impact on the poor who spend a greater share of their after-tax income on meeting basic needs, such as purchasing gas for their cars.

High diesel prices mean increased costs across the economy, including for truck drivers who transport many of the goods that Americans buy at retail stores. These higher prices are likely passed on to consumers in the form of more expensive items at stores, from food to toilet paper.      

To lower these prices, policymakers should be removing regulatory obstacles that make it more difficult to increase the oil supply. But that’s not what’s happening in the Biden administration’s war on energy, which includes blocking federal oil lease sales, including just cancelling oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There’s a constant push by the administration to move away from petroleum, which meets about 90 percent of America’s transportation needs. 

As President Biden and many on the far left are trying to use the power of government to shift Americans away from the use of reliable sources of energy such as oil and natural gas, he has paid lip service to high gas prices. This has often meant blaming others for high prices, but never taking responsibility for the inevitable results of his policies. 

One futile action he has taken, which hasn’t gotten enough attention, is his excessive tapping of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). In 1975, Congress created the SPR in part to protect the U.S. from severe interruptions in the energy supply. It isn’t meant to be used to provide cover for politicians due to high gas prices. And tapping the SPR is a mere band-aid anyway and doesn’t make much of a difference.

President Biden has tapped the SPR more aggressively than any other president. In the week that Biden took office, there were 638 million barrels of oil in the SPR. Last week, there were 350 million barrels, which is 288 million fewer barrels, a 45 percent decline. To put this into perspective, President Donald Trump released the second most amount of barrels (50 million) by any president during his first 31 months (the first week of taking office to the last week of August in his third year). President Biden has released nearly six times the amount of barrels released by Trump. 

American families are hurting when it comes to high gas prices. Political band-aids like tapping the SPR are not solutions. Only unleashing American energy and reducing obstacles will help to bring down prices and as a result help to improve the economic well-being of Americans.