The simple explanation for rising US gas prices — QuartzGas prices across the US are rising. After the national average price for regular gas bottomed out beneath $2 per gallon in April 2020, it has shot back up to $3.32—the highest it’s been since 2014, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In response, US president Joe Biden directed federal regulators on Nov. 17 to investigate “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.”

Biden—whose poll numbers have taken a hit because of rising gas prices, among other gripes—has sought to direct blame onto gas giants like ExxonMobil and Chevron for price gouging consumers. But there’s a less nefarious explanation for why US gas prices are rising: It’s yet another instance of the pandemic throwing supply and demand out of whack.

Around April 2020, US demand for automotive gasoline tanked as state governments declared lockdowns, companies shifted to remote work, and people cut down on non-essential travel. The sudden drop in consumption created a glut of gas inventory in the US, which helped lower pump prices below $2 per gallon.

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