Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo admitted Tuesday that the Biden administration is running out of options as it scrambles to bring down gas prices that have surged to record highs across the nation in recent weeks.
“Unfortunately, that is the brutal reality,” Raimondo told CNN.
The stark admission echoed similar remarks from President Biden, who has faced mounting pressure to respond to the gas crisis. The national average cost of a gallon of gas has reached an all-time high and is poised to surpass $5 for the first time on record.
Raimondo echoed Biden’s frequent assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his brutal invasion of Ukraine are most responsible for the spike in gas prices. Biden has referred to the increase as “Putin’s price hike.”
“This is, in large part, caused by Putin’s aggression,” Raimondo said. “Since Putin moved troops to the border of Ukraine, gas prices have gone up over $1.40 a gallon. The president is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas. But as you say, the reality is that there isn’t very much more to be done.”
Raimondo suggested some potential steps that would require action from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, such as the implementation of a gas tax holiday.
“The president is thinking about this every day and pushing his team and Congress to come up with any idea possible because we’re deeply aware of how this is hurting American families,” the commerce secretary added.
In New York, motorists are paying an average of $4.988 per gallon, with higher prices in New York City and some other metro areas. The national average is hovering at a record $4.955, according to AAA.
At least 15 US states have surged past the $5 threshold as of Wednesday, with Ohio and Pennsylvania joining the growing list overnight. States already on the list included Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
Oil prices have surged around the world as the Russia-Ukraine war further upended a global energy market that was already struggling to keep pace with demand as the COVID-19 pandemic abates.
Republican lawmakers are among those who have argued that Biden’s energy policies have played a key role in the gas crisis. Critics say Biden should engage with US oil firms to ramp up production.
Earlier this year, experts told The Post that the president could achieve an immediate drop in prices by declaring a rollback on energy-related regulations.
When asked about the likelihood of surging prices in March, Biden said his administration “can’t do much right now” to bring costs down. Some limited steps, such as a release of oil from the strategic reserve, have had little effect.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended the administration’s handling of the situation during an interview last weekend, declaring that the “price of gasoline is not set by a dial in the Oval Office.”
“When an oil company is deciding, hour by hour, how much to charge you for a gallon of gas, they’re not calling the administration to ask what they should do; they’re doing it based on their goal of maximizing their profits,” Buttigieg said.