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US gas prices now highest in history, surpassing 2008 record

Gas prices kept climbing last week (Carline Jean / South Florida/TNS)
March 08, 2022

The average price for a gallon of gas hit the highest point in U.S. history this week, surpassing the previous high set in 2008. The rapid increase in gas prices comes as Russia — a significant supplier of oil and gas around the world — continues its invasion of Ukraine, despite condemnation by the U.S. and other European nations.

U.S. gas prices increased by an average of 45 cents per gallon nationwide last week, and on Tuesday the average gas price nationwide reached $4.17 a gallon for regular grade gas, according to AAA. That number surpasses the previous highest national average set on July 17, 2008 at $4.11 per gallon, USA Today reported.

Tuesday’s gas prices are up from $4.06 per gallon on Monday. Last week, average gas prices nationwide were $3.60 a gallon.

The price for a gallon of diesel is also approaching its record high. On July 17, 2008, diesel hit a historic high of $4.84 per gallon. As of Tuesday, diesel has reached $4.75 a gallon, more than double what it was in October of 2020.

The cost for a barrel of crude oil reached $124 in the U.S. this week.

Gas prices could continue to rise. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would ban the import of all Russian oil and gas. In a White House press conference, Biden said, “Today I’m announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy.”

“That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] war machine,” Biden added. “This is a move that has strong bipartisan support with congress and, I believe, the country. Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. imports about 100,000 barrels of Russian oil every day, which accounted for about eight percent of the U.S. oil imports in 2021. That number represents about five percent of Russia’s crude oil exports.

Gas prices could be further affected if European allies follow the U.S. in banning the import of Russian gas.

Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak — who also oversees Russian energy affairs — warned on Monday that oil and gas prices could become unpredictable and the cost per barrel of crude could hit $300 if the U.S. and other European countries ban Russian gas imports, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, Biden said he made his decision to ban Russian oil and gas imports in conjunction with U.S. allies and partners, but Biden said “many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us.” Biden said the U.S. is working with other European countries to help them reduce their dependency on Russian oil and gas.

In his Tuesday remarks, Biden said while the U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas is expected to “inflict further pain on Putin” but said the move is “going to cost us as well as well in the United States.”

Biden said “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home” and “protect American families and businesses” from the price increases.

“To the oil and gas companies and finance firms that back them, we understand that Putin’s war with Ukraine is causing prices to rise. We gat that. That’s self-evident,” Biden said Tuesday. “But, but, but, but, it’s no excuse to exercise excessive price increases, or padding profits, or any kind of effort to exploit the situation or American consumers, exploit them.”

Biden further denied that his administration and policies are holding back domestic energy production and said the U.S. is on track to set a record for oil production.

Biden also said his ban on Russian oil and gas and increasing prices “is a stark reminder that to protect our economy in the long term we need to be more energy independent” and “should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy.”

“Loosening environmental regulations or pulling back clean energy investment won’t — let me explain won’t — will not lower energy prices for families,” Biden said. “But transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles powered by clean energy, with tax credits to help American families winterize their homes and use less energy, that will — that will help.”