San Francisco Bay Area sees cheaper gas prices
San Francisco Bay Area drivers are paying less for gas than last year, but they're still paying some of the highest gas prices throughout the country.
The big picture: Gas prices set record all-time highs last year amid a broader inflation crisis, and driven in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which destabilized global energy markets.
By the numbers: Bay Area drivers paid an average of $4.88 per gallon of regular gasoline as of May 1, compared to $6.32 a year ago, according to recent data from GasBuddy.
- Last month, average gas prices in the area were $4.95 per gallon.
Of note: Gas prices tend to be higher in the San Francisco area due to high taxes, special gasoline required by the California Air Resources Board that reduces emissions, and few refineries in recent years, Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, told Axios via email.
Zoom out: Gas prices nationally are rising slightly compared to previous months — but they're still well below last year's levels as we head into Memorial Day weekend and the travel-heavy summer season.
- The nationwide average price per gallon of regular gasoline has been $3.53 throughout May 2023, compared to $4.60 a year ago.
- Prices are still well above pre- and mid-pandemic levels.
- While gas prices fluctuate from state to state, they tend to follow the same up-and-down trends nationwide.
AAA and others are predicting near-record travel this summer, which could spike demand — and thus lead to higher prices — in the warmer months.
- "It's possible this is merely the lull before Memorial Day, but it could be a trend that lingers into summer," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a written statement.
Between the lines: The Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency waiver last month allowing the summertime sale of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol in a bid to suppress prices.
- So-called E15 gas is typically avoided in summer due to smog concerns.
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