It’s no secret that higher gasoline prices are a problem for a lot of folks, including everyday drivers, businesses and — maybe especially — the politicians who hear the complaints from the first two. Although prices at the pump have been trending higher for some time, they’ve really come to the forefront in the past several weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has stressed global energy markets and sent U.S. officials looking for any and all options to keep a lid on prices. In today’s RBN blog, we look at President Biden’s decision to allow the sale of E15 gasoline during the summer months, whether it’s likely to provide U.S. drivers significant relief from high prices this summer, and how global pressures are moving ethanol prices higher too.
We’ve written a lot in recent weeks about the swift upward movement in global energy prices and their effects. We put those price increases in some historical context in Comfortably Numb, looked at how the International Energy Agency (IEA) is trying to address the oil-market turmoil in Road to Nowhere, examined what U.S. refineries have been importing from Russia in We’re Not Going to Take It, showed why U.S. E&Ps have been slow to ramp up oil production in the I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) series, and illustrated how rising gasoline prices are making electric vehicles (EVs) more cost-competitive in One Shining Moment.
Crude oil prices have been on a steady rise over the last year as the economy recovers from the pandemic-induced recession of 2020. U.S. benchmark WTI settled April 19 at $102.56/bbl, down from its recent high mark of $123.70/bbl on March 8, which was set not long after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But prices have been steadily climbing for more than a year, rising from $47.62/bbl on the first day of trading in 2021 and $76.08/bbl on the first day of trading in 2022. Gasoline prices have followed suit. The U.S. average was $4.101/gal on April 19, up more than 40% from a year earlier.
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