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Mailbag: Gas prices high for three reasons

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In reference to the letter by Robbie Wattenbarger (Oct. 10, “It’s a pity, may God have mercy”), it’s hard for me to understand how delusional some can be to think that a president of the United States controls gas prices.

In fact, President Joe Biden has called for an investigation into persistently high gasoline prices. With the average price of gas around the U.S. having climbed to $3.17 a gallon, Mr. Biden suggested that pandemic profiteers might be to blame. Yet experts say there’s little evidence of anything nefarious behind the higher fuel cost. Although gas prices have atypically remained elevated after Labor Day, when prices at the pump usually fall following the peak summer driving season, analysts blame other factors, including lower global production and supply disruptions in the U.S.

Gas prices have been high for three basic reasons: supply disruptions — storms and hackers shuttered production and transport of gasoline this summer, with Hurricane Ida temporarily closing most oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and several big refineries; high demand — we are coming out of a pandemic, working from home, to driving at rates nearly 50% above their pre-pandemic level, even higher than the index’s levels last September; and last — energy economist Philip Verleger said, “Gasoline prices are being propped up by U.S. independent producers and OPEC members limiting their oil production.”

Mr. Biden joins a rich tradition of presidents who express frustration with high gasoline prices, including Donald Trump, who in 2019 faced similar problems.

Bob Keith

Corvallis

 

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