On Friday, AAA said the national average for gasoline prices set a new record of $4.593. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
May 20 (UPI) -- The national average for gas prices across the United States hit a record $4.593 per gallon as of Friday morning, as Americans prepare for the the busy summer travel season.
AAA reported Thursday that Alaska (34 cents) and Connecticut (30 cents) experienced the largest average increases from a week earlier.
Four other states -- Rhode Island, Washington, Massachusetts and New Hampshire -- each had average increases of 28 cents. Maine and Oregon showed average increases of 26 cents and New York, 25 cents.
California's statewide average rose above $6.
GasBuddy, which also tracks prices, warned this week that gas prices this Memorial Day, May 30, could be $1 higher than the previous record of $3.66 per gallon in 2014.
The surge in fuel costs, which started when output was reduced in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and got worse after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, has hit consumers and businesses alike.
"We did not anticipate that transportation and freight costs would soar the way they have as fuel prices have risen to all-time highs," Target CEO Brian Cornell said Wednesday, according to CNBC.
Target is one of many retailers, along with trucking companies, that are facing diesel shortages. That has caused concerned among business leaders that fuel might have to be rationed in some parts of the country. Similarly, the airline industry shares some of those fears as the availability of jet fuel has decreased.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to prevent gasoline price gouging -- without a single Republican vote in favor. The vote was 217-207. But House Republican Whip Steve Scalise wrote to Republican members that he saw no evidence of price gouging.
In early April, oil industry executives testified about high gas prices at a House Energy Committee hearing and denied they were exploiting the war in Russia to raise prices.
President Joe Biden in late March ordered the release of a million barrels of oil per day from the strategic reserve aimed at lowering prices at the pump.
AAA said earlier this week that even with gas prices at record levels nationwide, nearly 40 million people are expected to travel long distances over the coming Memorial Day weekend -- which traditionally signals the start of the busier summer driving season.