Average gas prices in the U.S. have risen 22 cents in the last three weeks. Although many projections see gas prices over the summer being the lowest they have been in six years, the gas price hike during the spring and summer months always hits hard, especially on a commuter campus like UW Tacoma.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Washington is $3.03 and that price is likely to keep rising. In Tacoma, the average is $3.03 with a high of $3.21. That’s almost $.30 higher than the national average.
What is causing the upward trend in the price of gas? NBC news reported that the rise in crude oil prices, which lead to the hike in prices at the pump, is the result of the dollar’s waning strength against important currencies. In addition, it seems that the West Coast, including our beloved Pacific Northwest, has taken the brunt of the rise.
But still, the price of gas rises every year around this time. This hike is nothing new. Traditional thinking says that gas prices rise in summer because of increased demand. With more people taking vacations—and driving to get to their destinations—the demand for gas goes up and prices follow suit. While this might have been true in earlier decades, the advent of affordable air travel has decreased the amount of miles people drive for vacations.
Instead, gas price hikes in summer are due in large part to the EPA and environmental regulations that require large cities to use different gas blends during the summer. These blends are costlier to produce and yield lower gas mileage making the consumer need more gas to go the same number of miles. The summer gas hike then, is an unintended consequence of a very well intentioned piece of legislation, The Clean Air Act.
Regardless of the cause, summer gas prices are here to stay, at least until September. To deal with the rise in cost, commuters can consider several alternatives. Public transportation is cheap and reliable, albeit occasionally inconvenient. Carpooling is another effective way to cut fuel costs. UW Tacoma students can find ride matches on rideshareonline.com. Vanpools are another great low cost option for students. During the summer, bikers might also take advantage of the good weather and bike to school. These options can help students save money and limit environmental damage.