Filling the fuel tank for vacation driving this summer will be pricier than it has been in nearly four years as gasoline prices nationwide continue to rise toward an expected average seasonal price of $3 a gallon, according to news and industry reports.
Experts expect the price rise won't ease until the peak summer travel season ends around September, if then. And this kind of seasonal high has not been seen since 2014.
It was 2008, the end of the Bush White House years, when we saw the highest prices, and the average gallon tickled the $5 mark.
But reviews are mixed as to whether a 60-cent spike in gas prices over the past year will crimp travel to Chattanooga's tourist venues. Local tourism folks are optimistic, but GasBuddy's summer travel survey shows that only 58 percent of people said they'll take a road trip over the next three to four months. That's down 24 percent from a year ago, according to the survey.
GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, and CNN list four main reasons for the gas price spike:
' Demand — Americans are driving more thanks to upbeat consumer confidence.
' Crude awakening — Brent Crude, the global benchmark that influences U.S. gas prices, recently topped $80 a barrel. That's up about 50 percent over the past year, and the cost of crude oil at any given time makes up about 50 percent of pump costs.
' Thanks, OPEC and Russia — OPEC, in large part, engineered the rebound in oil prices from the crash of 2015-2016 by teaming up with Russia in early 2017 to slash production in hopes of fixing a supply glut. The strategy worked, and global oil stockpiles, especially in America and in spite of our soaring shale oil production, have declined steadily.
' Thanks, Donald — Trump's exit from the Iran Deal was the final straw. U.S. oil prices topped $70 a barrel earlier this month just as Trump announced he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, will now sideline up to 1 million barrels per day of supply.
That's something to think about when you look at the pump with a frown as you fill up this weekend — all politics are local.