There is no easy answer for the reasons behind the rising cost of gasoline.
Nevertheless, the rising cost of gas turned into a political battle between Republicans and Democrats at a Congressional hearing today, according to the Huffington Post.
Republicans and oil industry leaders said America is not fully tapping its energy resources and were critical of the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Democrats blamed higher gas prices on Middle East tensions and speculation by Wall Street investors.
Gas prices have jumped 48 cents since January to an average $3.76 per gallon.
The truth is that crude oil prices accounted for 76 percent of the price of a gallon of gas in January, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The rising price of crude oil is actually a global issue, according to Charles Lane, Washington Post editorial writer. Lane writes that crude oil prices have been rising for more than a decade due to demand in China and other emerging markets. Lane points out that rising gas prices are a sign of global economic recovery. “American motorists are caught up in a vast global market for energy whose cyclical forces of supply and demand are more important than the short-term policy choices of the U.S. government,” writes Lane.
In What’s Behind These High Gas Prices?, an NPR visual analysis shows how the price of crude oil is affected by supply and demand, politics, speculation and natural disasters.
Illinois residents can blame a good part of the cost of a gallon of gas on taxes. Illinois has the seventh highest gasoline tax rate in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.
In January, the average tax rate per gallon of gas in Illinois was 38.9 cents. The rate rises with higher gas prices, since Illinois charges a 6.25 percent sales tax on gasoline; it is just one of seven states that charge a gasoline sales tax.
Add to that the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax, and the average Illinois resident is paying at least 58 cents in taxes per gallon of gasoline.
Cook County charges an extra 6 cents per gallon. And at Chicago gas stations, there’s yet another 5 cents per gallon tax.