Rising gas prices spark problems across the nation


Alex Brandon

Local gas prices continue to rise in Ozaukee County, causing less frequent fill ups at the pump.

From California’s record-high prices of $6.50 a gallon in Mono County to Ozaukee’s local prices rising to $4.03 as of March 16, 2022, Americans everywhere are worrying about budgeting for gas, including students at Homestead.

According to GasBuddy, the rising cost of gas is a dramatic change from 2020’s low prices, where prices dropped as low as $1.97 per gallon in areas around the country. These sudden changes are sparking mass concern around the country, leaving Americans to wonder where to place the blame.

The general upward trend of gas prices began in May 2020, but did not spike until January 2021, shortly after President Joe Biden was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021. This is where the controversy began.

One of President Biden’s first acts as president was satisfying many of his climate activist supporters by closing the Keystone XL Pipeline, one of America’s main gas resources, assuring activists that US soil would no longer be torn up for gas but instead imported from overseas. This action sparked outrage in many states, even causing 21 states to sue President Biden for his “overstep in presidential authority,” according to VOX. This action alone is known to some as the start of the rise of gas prices.

After cutting off the potential of 800,000 barrels of carbon intensive tar sands per day, Americans were forced to let go of their hopes of falling gas prices and rely on overseas gas imports. Many point to the current price issue as an example of the danger of relying on foreign countries for a crucial supply of gas.

However, not all Americans share this point of view. Many point their blame elsewhere. Inflation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict are known to many as the main reason for gas prices skyrocketing, not the closing of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Many other people believe that the rise in gas prices is due to America’s recovery from the pandemic, causing more and more people to fully return to normal life and once again utilize their car. The spike in gas prices can also be attributed to the drastic rise in inflation in 2022, with the current inflation rate being 7.9% as of February, 6.2% higher than the previous year around this time.

Inflation, a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money, was believed by many to be caused by the dramatic recession the American economy faced beginning in March 2020. The near complete shutdown of businesses around America was detrimental to the economy, causing the economic output to dramatically drop 31% from the year before, shocking Americans everywhere. Businesses were forced to close their doors, thousands upon thousands of jobs were cut and people around the globe felt the unintended effects of a complete shutdown as a result of the pandemic.

However, to the shock of the economy, Americans were able to bounce back from the lockdown faster than imagined; restaurants opened their doors, salons once again took appointments, tourist sights accepted visitors. Only one problem lingered – the vast lack of resources cut from the lockdown. Global supply chains struggled and business owners were unable to keep up with the demand, causing costs to rise.

Inflation, as well as the Ukraine-Russia conflict, are what many point to as the cause of rising gas prices. Since President Biden’s green agenda closed the Keystone XL Pipeline, Americans are forced to import gas from overseas, from places like Russia; however, due to the conflict in Ukraine, gas prices have shot sky high, leaving Americans in shock over the price they pay at the pump. Although the exact cause of gas prices cannot be pinned to any one source, a variety of factors are evident, creating controversy for drivers.

Homestead students are feeling the wrath of rising gas prices here in Ozaukee County. According to a school-wide survey of 126 students who drive, 50% reported paying for their own gas.

One of these students reports paying up to $60 a tank for gas now, causing him to change his spending ways: “I have been eating at home more in order to save money that I’ve previously had spent at fast food restaurants,” Evan Endres, senior, said.

Livvy Boehlke, sophomore, has witnessed the dramatic gas price increase first hand as a new driver, having gotten her license in November 2021.

“Nowadays, I’ve been watching how much I use my car and how many people I take and drop off at places because I don’t want to waste gas,” Boehlke commented.

Endres and Boehlke, along with many other Homestead students who pay for their own gas, now have to accommodate the high prices by limiting the use of their cars in order to avoid frequent fill ups.

Overall, the pain of high gas prices has been felt by everyone, from students at Homestead to middle class Americans trying to get to work on time. Although the exact cause of rising gas prices cannot be attributed to any one factor, a variety of components can be associated with the climbing gas prices, leaving Americans to wonder when the price at the pump will finally begin to decline.