Gas price roller coaster has many causes, consequences

Automotive

(NewsNation) — While older drivers remember when gas went above $1/gallon and everyone thought that was simply an aberration that wouldn’t happen again, today’s prices hovering around $4/gallon seem to have some serious staying power.

While the drop in Russian oil flowing into the market puts upward pressure on prices, China’s recent COVID-19 re-emergence has led to lockdowns and a slowdown in consumption there. It’s the sort of global balancing act that’s gone on for decades, but this time the prices just won’t come down.

Anyone who makes their living on the road, from cab drivers to long-haul truckers, feels the pain every time they pull up to a pump. It’s one of the factors making electric vehicles more and more alluring.

In California, gas prices are hovering around $5.70 gallon, the nation’s highest price in the state with the highest population. Down south in Georgia, drivers are paying nearly $2 less, at $3.71/gallon.

The roller coaster of highs and lows can be explained by four major factors. First is how far the fuel has to travel from the refinery where it’s made to the station where it’s sold. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, prices are usually on the lower end of the scale because the city is at the head of a major pipeline.

Then, of course, there are disruptions. These can be anything from hurricanes to wars to labor strikes, and they all affect your bottom line at the pump. Capitalism also plays a part, with stations competing with each other for your business, and maybe cutting a few cents per gallon off their price. Finally, some states require different additives to be added to gas that will affect the price, and of course each state also has its own gas taxes.

You’ve probably heard of “summer blend” gasoline, and it’s real … it’s also more expensive than the winter blend. Some states are pondering putting off the changeover, regardless of any negative effects on air quality that might cause.

In all, it’s a ride we never wanted to buy a ticket on, but every time we pull up to the pump we take a seat and hope for the best.

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