Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Psychology suggests you probably want to blame someone for how much it’s costing you to drive this summer.

Driving the news: At an average of almost $3 a gallon, pump prices are 60 cents more than last Memorial Day and the highest in four years. Economists agree that no person or action can single-handedly affect pump prices over time, which are largely driven by a global oil market. That doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in the human condition of blame.

President Trump

Americans often blame the sitting president for high pump prices, and this time there is some evidence to back that up.

Trump’s announcement earlier this month he would withdraw America from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on that nation’s oil supply is among the geopolitical risks pushing global oil prices higher, which are hovering around $70 a barrel.

His move could be adding around 10 cents a gallon to gasoline prices, according to Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group consulting firm and former Republican energy adviser during the George W. Bush administration.

OPEC and Russia

But Trump is blaming OPEC, and there’s reason for that too.

Half the price of a gallon of American gasoline is driven by global oil prices, which are influenced heavily by the oil cartel, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC’s oil exports represent about 60% of the total oil traded globally.

In response to prices plummeting below $30 a barrel in early 2016, OPEC members along with Russia agreed to cut production in November 2016. The higher prices we’re seeing today are partly as a result of that move.

Now that oil prices have risen to between $70 and $80 a barrel in the last few weeks, OPEC and Russia are considering boosting production. McNally predicts pump prices could drop as soon as next month if these plans stick and oil prices keep dropping.

Lawmakers often blame OPEC for high prices — and each other, particularly in an election year like this. But McNally suggests Congress should support moves by OPEC and Russia to stabilize the oil market.

“If they fail, gasoline prices are likely to soar well above $4 in coming years. I realize that reasoning doesn't get much sympathy at the retail political level but the history of crude price volatility shows the only thing worse than producers managing oil supply is producers not managing oil supply.”
Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group
The EPA

Conservatives and industry often blame the Environmental Protection Agency for higher costs, and in this case they're right--though this policy has been in place since the early 1990's.

The agency requires stricter emissions standards in the summertime for gasoline than winter. This stricter standard typically costs refiners several cents more to refine from crude oil to gasoline.

Where you live and what you drive

It costs way more to fill up in California ($3.73 a gallon) than it does in Oklahoma ($2.71). This is due to several factors, including higher state taxes and transportation costs of moving fuel.

As for your wheels, a Toyota Prius will save you more than a Ford F150, which has been America’s top-selling vehicle for decades. That’s probably not going to change, auto analysts say.

This bout of rising gas prices is unlikely to be nearly as intense as in 2008, when prices breached the $4 mark and briefly changed people’s buying habits. Prices then dropped precipitously amid the economic crash. If OPEC and Russia follow through and boost production, this run could be much shorter than anticipated.

“Unless it’s a very high price and sustained, we typically don’t see a change in [car] buying habits,” said Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Autotrader.

One last fracking thing

U.S. oil production has roughly doubled from five million barrels a day to more than 10 million over the past decade. This oil boom, fueled by fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, helped drive down global oil prices a few years ago and helps insulate gas prices to some degree, experts say. It doesn’t do anything to lessen America’s use of oil itself as a fuel or our dependence on an inherently volatile global market.

“The real solution is reducing oil demand through efficiency and alternative fuels. That requires sustained long-term efforts even when oil prices are low.”
— Leslie Hayward, a vice president at the think tank Securing America's Future Energy

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 8 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.