At least 10 states now claim an average gas price of more than $5 per gallon, and some of them can trace this dubious honor back to a surge over the past few days. According to AAA, the country's average increased to $4.87 a gallon on Monday, which represents a 25-cent spike over the past week—and a nearly 60-cent jump over the past month, reports CNN Business. And it doesn't look like relief is coming in the near future, as oil analyst Andy Lipow tells the outlet that he expects the national average to hit $5.05 in less than two weeks' time.
This gloomy outlook comes despite the Biden administration's decision in March to release a million barrels of oil daily from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as well as an agreement last week by the OPEC oil cartel and its allies to boost production of oil, which remains the largest factor in gas prices. President Biden is expected to visit Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks, though it's unclear what that will achieve in terms of gas prices, either. "A president has to try," Bill Richardson, who served as energy secretary under Bill Clinton, tells the New York Times, which notes Biden has "precious few tools" to bring down prices. "Unfortunately, there are only bad options. And any alternative options are probably worse than asking the Saudis to increase production."
"Presidents may be the most powerful figure in the American government, but they cannot control the price of oil at the pump," concurs Chase Untermeyer, who was the US ambassador to Qatar under George W. Bush. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, warns that more wide-ranging economic consequences could result if things don't even out soon. "If oil prices go to $150, we are going into recession. There is no way out," he tells CNN. Meanwhile, consumers who care more about the effects than the cause continue to express frustration. "It's terrible," one driver in California, where the average cost of gas statewide is now $6.34 per gallon, tells Yahoo Finance. "I can't go visit my grandkids ... because of the gas prices." (Read more gas prices stories.)