Forget Russia – Let’s Lower Gas Prices Ourselves


Dheeksha Bhima Reddy

High gas prices in the United States cannot forever be blamed on Russia. President Biden and Congress need to take action to take pressure off the backs of millions of Americans, so that they can worry less about simply refueling their vehicles.

While the Russo-Ukrainian War continues to drive up gas prices nationwide, the Biden administration should take federal action to reduce gas prices as millions of Americans are still facing an economic crisis.

In Irvine alone, the average gas price is $5.83 per gallon according to Autoblog, which records current gas prices at Irvine’s twenty gas stations, excluding Costco. Senior Nicholas Lord-Souphanavong, who is one of many upperclassmen that regularly fills gas, said that current prices reflect the Biden administration’s inability to take action until relations with Russia become more stable.

“Stop putting the blame on Russia and start fixing things,” Lord-Souphanavong said. “We can lower the gas tax and use more of our oil. It’s a great scenario to use and then revert back to using roughly 8% of Russia’s oil.”

Supplying 12% of the world’s oil supply, Russia is the third largest oil producer, according to Forbes. The United States, who cut oil relations with Russia on March 8, is now seeing shortages of crude oil, which explains the rise in prices according to the American Automobile Association.

Some steps that would reduce pressure at the pump include Congress suspending the gas tax, which in California is adding around 55 cents per gallon for customers, according to the Sacramento Bee, and President Biden removing ethanol year-round. Even though the gas tax helps fund state highway maintenance and rehabilitation, according to the government website, states should rely temporarily on fuel taxes. These are cheaper and take less money out of taxpayers’ pockets at 18 cents per gallon for Californians, according to KTLA. Additionally, ethanol, which is mandated under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, is actually less efficient than gas but still more expensive, according to Fox News.     

“If we have the supply of gas to substitute ethanol ready, then it could help mitigate the issue,” senior and Portola Money Club co-president Alex Zhang said. “Additionally, now is a good time to stop the gas tax in the short term and add it back once prices go down.”

The war in Ukraine has forced Biden to step away from his campaign promises on climate change, according to the New York Times. Biden, who said during his 2020 campaign that the United States should decrease its production of fossil fuels and prohibit fracking, is now arguing for the opposite. In turn, his decision is helping to pivot the U.S. economy in order to sustain the production of gas while Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Nonetheless, his new plan calls for oil companies in America to drill more on their own, and a failure to do so results in a fine. This type of mechanism is reverting progress on combating climate change by putting more strain on the U.S. economy to produce more natural gas and petroleum, when it should actually move forward with using sources of renewable energy such as electricity, hydrogen and biodiesel. 

“We have the natural resources under our feet,” House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said March 8 on the House floor. “We have the best workers in the world: drilling the wells, building the pipelines, running the rigs and extracting the gas in the cleanest way possible.”

Especially since Russia has shifted its focus on annexing the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, according to CNN, there is no possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin will retreat Russian forces from Ukraine and somehow this will lead to a quick reestablishment of oil relations with Moscow. Federal leaders need to implement measures targeting gas prices, so that this crisis stops being an economic burden for Americans, who have already suffered too much hardship over the past two years.