By Riley Vance—
As gas prices skyrocket, many Americans have taken to their Twitter feeds to point fingers at our newly inaugurated president, Joe Biden. Just earlier this month, Republican congressman Jim Jordan retweeted a tweet about gas prices rising 20.8% since January with: “Who took office in January?”
As college students struggling to afford living expenses and education costs during a pandemic the increasing price of gas is certainly frustrating, but can it be entirely Biden’s fault?
Country music singer Travis Tritt also took to Twitter addressing his concerns. Tritt said, “Have you noticed gas prices lately? We’ve already returned to the highest gas prices since the Obama administration in many places. Thanks, Biden!”
Comments under his tweet were all in support of his viewpoint.
But, gas prices have steadily increased since May 2020. We saw a 45% increase in the price of gas in a short 10-month span. Prices went from $1.87 in April 2020 to $2.72 in February 2021. Since Biden has taken office, there has been a 10% increase in gas prices.
The major argument from Republican leaders is that the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is to blame for the spike in gas prices, but this claim can easily be debunked by the fact that the pipeline wasn’t even operating yet.
Louis Jacobson, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times, said that the majority of the oil that would have been carried by Keystone XL would have been exported, meaning there would be little effect on prices in the U.S.
Changes in the price of gas due to the decision to cancel the pipeline or limit fossil fuels are not infeasible but would take years to develop.
The more likely explanation for the increase in gas prices has to do with the simple concept of supply and demand.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel and Russia have made cuts in production—this is the supply part of the equation.
As far as the demand goes, we are recovering from a pandemic. People are getting vaccinated and returning back to a more normal lifestyle full of traveling (to work, on vacation or wherever else they please).
According to NPR’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, over 187 million Americans have been vaccinated and over 72 million have been fully vaccinated since the COVID-19 vaccine distribution started in December 2020.
This is the logical reason for the increase of gas prices.
Rapier said you can place blame on Biden, but only for slowing the spread of the pandemic.
“If you think Biden is responsible for hastening the end of the pandemic, then you can place some blame for the rise in oil prices on him. But that’s because the economy is beginning to recover, which is a good thing,” said Rapier.
“It’s definitely annoying that gas prices are so high, but I think they’ll go down eventually. I think it was a normal reaction from the impact of COVID,” said Alex Wesbrooks, a junior finance major.
An increase in gas prices can hurt a lot of Americans’ wallets, but a more optimistic perspective is that we’re getting closer and closer to “normal” every day with the rollout of vaccines.
File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal