The average price of a gallon of gas nationwide exceeded $5 on Thursday, crossing the milestone after a rapid rise over the past month that has alarmed public officials and strained the budgets of everyday Americans, according to GasBuddy.
In all 50 states, the average price of a gallon of gas stood above $4.40, but costs ranged considerably across different regions, as drivers in the West and Northeast suffered the highest prices and drivers in the Southeast saw the lowest, AAA data showed.
In California, the state with the highest gas prices, drivers paid an eye-popping average of $6.40 per gallon, AAA data showed.
The rising prices owe to a summer travel boom that has brought more people to the pump, experts told ABC News late last month. The spike in demand coincides with a shortage of crude oil supply amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which prompted a widespread industry exit from Russia that pushed millions of barrels of oil off the market, the experts said.
As consumer frustration has mounted in recent months, President Joe Biden has faced criticism over his handling of cost increases in essentials like fuel and groceries. Only 37% of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the economic recovery, according to an ABC/Ipsos poll released on Sunday.
Republican leaders in Congress have faulted Biden’s management of the U.S. oil supply for high gas prices, blasting his choice to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline last year.
As of last week, Biden was leaning toward a trip to Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, which may offer some hope of relief for U.S. gas buyers.
In March, the U.S. and its allies announced the collective release of 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves over the following months, which sought to alleviate some of the supply shortage and blunt price increases.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos that inflation is Biden’s “top economic priority.”
Stephanopoulos on Sunday asked Buttigieg about the release of oil from the strategic reserves, saying it "hasn't made any difference at all." Stephanopoulos asked, "Was that a failure?"
"I don't think it's correct to say it hasn't made any difference at all," Buttigieg said. "This is an action that helped to stabilize global oil prices."