Why are gas prices so high?


Brianna Peck, Editor-in-Chief

The last time Californians saw a jump in gas prices as high as they are now was during the 2008 Great Recession. However, changes in supply-and-demand, environmental concerns, and global markets have caused them to be higher than previously recorded as the state transitions from its COVID regulations.

“So what a lot of it goes back to is when COVID hit two years ago, there was a massive global drop in demand for gas and oil because airline flights stopped, people stopped having to commute to work, everyone’s working from home, people stopped purchasing as much. This caused a huge drop in demand for oil and the price of oil plummeted,” said AP Microeconomics teacher Mr. Hardy.

At a quick glance, it could appear that the Biden administration are at fault for inflation. However, both Congress and the president have little ability to affect the oil market. Even less, global markets. The real cause of higher prices is the rise in demand for oil.

“What’s causing this is far beyond the president’s control,” said Mr. Hardy. “The bigger picture, long-term, now that COVID is under control is that more and more societies are opening up, people are flying internationally again, businesses are asking people to come-in in-person to work so there has been a huger increase in the demand for gas and oil, but the industry had gone offline so much that really the supply can’t keep up with it.”

In addition, California is a special epicenter for increased prices due to its progressive environmental ideology. Every summer, California introduces a new gasoline mixture in hopes of reducing gas evaporation.

“California basically has stricter environmental regulation on our gas, which I think most of us would agree is a good thing. Californians tend to complain that, ‘Oh our gas is so expensive, but part of is particularly the summer blend, it has more purification that makes it more costly to supply and therefore more costly at the pump,” said Mr. Hardy.

Elaborating on California’s other environmental protection efforts, AP Government teacher, Mrs. Crowe said, “There are also other factors too, like California gas, we have higher tax amounts so that drives the price up. . . there are all these little nuances so just to pinpoint one little thing is really hard.”

But the rise in gas prices isn’t only affecting California, it’s a nationwide problem.

Although the president has begun to release barrels from our emergency petroleum reserve, the effect of the Russo-Ukrainian war has also added to increased prices.

“Russia is a major world exporter, in fact, they are the number one producer in the world, particularly in places like Europe for example,” said Mr. Hardy. “The war with Ukraine is having pretty significant effects to the extent that we are embargoing or choosing not to purchase Russian oil, that’s causing prices to move further.”

However, both Mr. Hardy and Ms. Crowe are both confident that there will eventually be a drop in gas prices once the oil industry recovers. But until then, gas prices will remain high as California remains commuter-based.