High gas prices are the cost of defending Ukraine

Published 12:27 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

Americans from coast to coast during the pandemic have been asked to sacrifice for the greater good, and most have willingly done so.
But some were hesitant, and that minority has been exploited by people who saw COVID misinformation as a way to gain money and influence.
The result has been disastrous, as opposition to vaccines, masks and other COVID protocols has helped give the U.S. a far higher death rate than other wealthy countries.
As Ukrainians hold out heroically against annihilation, enduring unimaginable loss and fear, Americans once again are being asked to sacrifice — not by putting our lives, or the lives of our soldiers, in jeopardy, but through higher prices.
What will the result be this time? Will we endure the rising prices as the cost of standing up for our values, and our allies in freedom?
Or will we be pulled apart, again?
Prices at the pump were rising long before Russia invaded Ukraine and have spiraled faster since the start of the war. The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline has soared more than 45 cents in the past week and is now greater than $4 a gallon. The national average topped $4.17 a gallon on Tuesday, according to auto club AAA.
Americans will be feeling the pain of the rise in gas prices for quite some time, analysts predict.It boils down to supply and demand.“Oil companies don’t set the market prices; people do, by filling up their tanks,” says Patrick De Haan, petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline prices around the U.S.
The United States is the world’s largest oil producer — ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia — but it is also the biggest oil consumer, and it can’t meet that staggering demand with domestic crude alone.
According to the Associated Press the U.S. imported 245 million barrels of oil from Russia last year — about 8% of all U.S. oil imports — up from 198 million barrels in 2020. That’s less than the U.S. gets from Canada or Mexico but more than it imported last year from Saudi Arabia.
The pressure on our wallets is immense, and it is likely only going to get worse as President Joe Biden this week announced a ban on Russian oil imports. The European Union has also announced a similar move.
Even more than previous sanctions, the import bans are designed to hit Russia where it hurts. The Russian government depends on fossil fuel for a third of its revenue.
In such a connected world, American consumers are feeling it. Gas prices, already elevated by the pandemic, have shot upwards in response to the Russian invasion. They’ll only continue to rise as the bans inject more scarcity and uncertainty into the market.
That’s the unfortunate, unavoidable result of taking the necessary actions against Vladimir Putin and the threat he poses to Ukrainian independence — and to the very idea of a peaceful Europe, and a West united in freedom. It is an assault on our freedom as the more we unite, the more we become dependent on each other.
But it is worth every extra cent on gas, though, as long as it keeps our money from funding the Russian war machine and its human rights abuses in Ukraine.
In the meantime, the president as well as governors, including Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee, should do what they can to lower the burden of rising gas prices, both in the short term, through direct aid and pressure on oil companies making obscene profits, and long term, by speeding up the transition to clean energy.
In the meantime, high gas prices hurt people, and there will be a lot of criticism.
But criticism unburdened by facts won’t help Americans deal with rising prices caused by a war across the world. It won’t help the U.S. transition away from fossil fuels, which is necessary both to save our planet and to get out from under the thumb of autocrats like Putin.
And it won’t help Americans do their part so that Ukraine has a chance to preserve its freedom — the kind of freedom that every American politician, on the right or left, say they cherish above all else.

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