It’s been a pain to reach into our wallets to pay for anything lately, considering prices for everyday necessities such as groceries or housing have risen due to inflation. The fluctuating gas fares have hit many U.S. residents’ pockets hard. Average national gas prices hit an all-time high of $4.70 for regular and $5.33 for diesel on June 15, however, prices began to steadily decrease towards the end of summer… before climbing again. While prices across the country still remain slightly higher than normal, the prices of gas for us Texans is the cheapest you can find.
According to data reported by AAA, Texas leads the nation with the lowest average gas price of $3.21. Along the West Coast, states such as Washington, Nevada, Oregon, California, Alaska, and even Hawaii, have witnessed their fares topping over $5 per gallon. As Texas remains the state to find the cheapest gas even through this spike, Texans still can expect to experience some slightly higher fares in the coming months but will still not compare to the burden in other states.
Why? Our state's close proximity to refineries along the Gulf Coast results in cheaper delivery than states that don’t have this advantage. States along the East Coast benefit from the Colonial Pipeline that travels from Houston to New York, whereas the West Coast doesn't share the same fortune because of the Rocky Mountains. State fuel taxes are also a factor; some motorists pay as high as 58 cents per gallon (Pennsylvania) or as low as 9 cents (Alaska).
On October 5, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) revealed they will cut back oil production by two million barrels a day—another factor in the rise of the national average. Two weeks later, President Biden announced his plan to sell the remaining 15 million barrels from the nation’s emergency oil reserve, in an effort to dampen steep rates before the end of the year. Facing much criticism due to the rise yet again, the president cited that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is a major reason why gasoline prices have risen nationwide again.
Biden seeks to purchase enough in stockpile to prevent future oil price spikes that could once again hurt the pockets of Americans. But before the dust settles, it doesn’t look like a major change will happen quickly to reflect low gas prices once again.
Houston’s current average price per gallon is just $3.17 for regular and $4.67 for diesel. Though the prices don’t reflect the lowest in the state ($3.03), we’re thankful to not spend as much as the cost of a 5-course meal for a full tank of gas.
The constant change in the oil industry leaves Americans vulnerable on what to expect next. Will we once again see prices decrease closer to $2 or will we still see a consistent rise through the end of the year? Stopping at the gas station is a looming annoyance but even with inflation, we can only be thankful that our pockets haven’t been depleted—yet.