On Sunday, seven states raised taxes on fuel. The move, which comes right before the Fourth of July, could be compounded by the fact that gas prices are expected to reach a four-year high. Tax increases went into effect in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont, and Iowa. Oklahoma, which hasn’t raised gas taxes in 31 years, will use the extra revenue to fund teacher raises after massive teacher strikes earlier this year.
This week, 46.9 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles over the Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA. Last year, gas prices were at their lowest rate since 2005. Meanwhile, this summer is expected to be the most expensive summer for fuel since 2014.
According to Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, multiple factors are to blame for the increase in gas prices, including Donald Trump’s plans to block oil exports from Iran, the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela, and the low increase in OPEC oil production. Over the weekend, Trump blamed “turmoil & disfunction (sic) in Iran and Venezuela” for gas prices, tweeting that he would ask Saudi Arabian King Salman to increase oil production.
Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference...Prices to high! He has agreed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2018
In 2017, Russia and OPEC decreased the production of crude oil and have kept supplies low well into this year, yet US production has increased. However, recent supply fluctuations have been a factor in the Fourth of July increase. Last week, reports showed that the production decrease has been “one of the largest weekly declines in recent memory.” Data from the Energy Information Administration show that oil inventories fell nearly 10 million barrels as US exports skyrocketed to a record 3 million barrels per day.
The average price of gas per gallon dropped from $2.96 last month to $2.85 on Sunday, yet the cost is still higher than last year’s average of $2.24, according to AAA. “This Independence Day will be one for the record books as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA’s senior vice president for Travel and Publishing.
Motorists traveling out of state are likely to see big differences in oil prices from state to state. The following is a list of the highest and lowest gas prices in the country.
Highest average gas prices: California ($3.65), Hawaii ($3.65), Washington ($3.42), Alaska ($3.38), Nevada ($3.31), Oregon ($3.27), Utah ($3.18), Idaho ($3.16), Connecticut ($3.08), and Arizona ($3.05).
Lowest average gas prices: South Carolina ($2.51), Mississippi ($2.52), Alabama ($2.52), Louisiana ($2.57), Tennessee ($2.57), Arkansas ($2.57), Missouri ($2.58), Oklahoma ($2.58), Virginia ($2.61), and Kansas ($2.64).