Drivers in the United States and around the world are experiencing unprecedented gasoline price increases.
Nationwide, the average price for a gallon of regular gas Tuesday was $4.242, according to data compiled by the AAA.
That’s down a little from a record $4.33 on March 11, but still sharply higher from a year ago.
The surge is closely tied to crude oil prices, which have risen sharply in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
That’s the case despite the fact that most European nations haven’t joined the U.S. in boycotting oil from Russia, the world’s third largest producer behind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
With the Ukrainians remaining steadfast in the face of the Russian shelling of civilian population centers and western nations beginning to send additional military equipment and aid, there’s little reason to think the conflict will end soon or that pressure on oil prices will ease.
Still, against that backdrop, there are some upsides to the higher gas prices.
Here’s a look at five reasons to feel good about paying more for a gallon of gas.
No. 5: It’s better for the environment
Economists differ on how elastic demand for gasoline is, i.e. how high the price has to go before people actually cut back on their driving.
But if prices remain high enough for long enough, some cutbacks in consumption are likely, with commensurate improvement in local air quality and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Maybe even enough to make up for all the bitcoin miners.
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No. 4: It’s Still Cheaper in the U.S.
The average price of a gallon of regular around the world is $5.02 according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com.
The United Kingdom, France and even oil rich Norway all pay more than $8 a gallon on average. And in Germany, the price is over $9, which goes a long way towards explaining German reluctance to wean itself from Russian oil.
No. 3: If You Take Inflation Into Account…
Adjusted for inflation prices are only just beginning to approach previous records.
Data from the Energy Information Agency show gas prices adjusted for inflation have seen three sharp peaks over the past 50 years. The first occurred in the late 1970s at the time of the second oil embargo by OPEC countries. The second occurred in 2008 at the time of the global financial crisis. And the third occurred in 2011-13 as the U.S. struggled to recover from the crisis.
Peak gasoline prices adjusted for inflation reached $5.27 in June of 2008. At the moment, they sit around $4, based on the EIA’s adjusted data.
No. 2: If You’re From Texas
Texas remains the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S.
In fact, fossil fuels are so much a part of the state’s economy that it passed a bill last year baring state pensions from investing in environmentally conscious funds that avoid fossil-fuel producers.
Higher gasoline prices are likely to drive increased oil production in the state, which already accounts for about 40% of U.S. production.
No. 1: It’s a Small Price for Freedom
Enduring higher gasoline prices seems like a relatively small price to pay to try to help support a fledgling democracy fighting for its existence against a murderous dictator. Some parts of the world are likely headed for severe food shortages and worse as a result of losing Ukrainian and Russian wheat deliveries. So try to keep it in perspective.