States With the Highest Gas Prices | Best States | US News – U.S. News & World Report

They are on the mind of everyone who has to drive, especially as the summer travel season begins: gas prices. The continuing effects of the pandemic and Russia’s war with Ukraine have delivered a one-two punch to the world’s supply of petroleum, causing prices at the pump to jump up to levels last seen in 2014.

After a peak that started earlier this month, prices are starting to come down this week going into the July 4 holiday weekend. Regardless, drivers in some states definitely have it worse than others. As of June 30, average prices for regular gasoline range from a low of $4.36 in Georgia to a whopping high of $6.29 in California, according to the national motor club AAA. The national average was $4.86, a nearly 56% increase from last year.

Western and Pacific states face the most costly gas in the nation, as the five states with the highest prices are California, Hawaii ($5.60), Alaska ($5.57), Nevada ($5.57) and Oregon ($5.49). Of course, there can be significant differences in costs within one state or even within one city, depending on factors like local competition or an area’s access to pipelines and refineries.

The high average price of gas in California is particularly notable because it has the most cars of any state and some of the nation’s longest commute times. Why is gas so expensive in the Golden State? It’s a combination of higher environmental standards for fuel and higher gas taxes than most states. Gas stations must sell a cleaner fuel blend that few refineries outside of California produce, which can make it difficult to find fuel when there’s a shortage.

“California gasoline prices are generally higher and more variable than prices in other states because relatively few supply sources offer California’s unique blend of gasoline outside the state,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted.

For cheaper prices, drive out to the South, where you’ll find the five states with the cheapest average gas prices: Georgia ($4.36), South Carolina ($4.37), Mississippi ($4.38), Arkansas ($4.41) and Louisiana ($4.42).

Though the South stands out for cheaper prices, the states that have seen the smallest relative changes in price over the past year are actually further west. Hawaii saw the smallest percent change in price compared to a year ago, an increase of “only” about 40%. Prices in California, Colorado and Washington all went up around 45%.

On the other hand, residents of Arizona have been particularly unlucky as their state saw the greatest year-over-year percent increase in gas prices: up 67% from $3.13 to $5.22. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont all saw increases of more than 63% as well.

While gas prices right now may make drivers wince, these are not the worst hikes in recent U.S. history. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, inflation-adjusted gas prices were similarly high or higher from 2011 to 2014, 2005 to 2008 and from 1980 to 1981.

National leaders are considering ways to give motorists a break at the pump. President Joe Biden last week called for Congress to approve a three-month gas tax holiday, which could save drivers as much as 18 cents per gallon. The move, however, faces an uncertain future.

With prices coming down for the second week in a row, there is some reason for optimism for consumers as the Energy Information Administration forecasts that the decrease could continue. But if the pandemic has taught the country anything, it’s that the world can often go in directions no one would expect.


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