Congressman Estes said gas prices are at ‘all-time high.’ They’re not

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In a political fundraising jab at the Biden Administration, Wichita-area Congressman Ron Estes made a false claim Monday that gasoline prices are at “an all-time high.”

“That is not an accurate statement,” said Shawn Steward, manager of public and government affairs for the AAA auto club of Kansas.

AAA publishes national and state data daily on gas prices, based on a survey of 130,000 gas stations nationwide.

On Twitter and Facebook Monday, Estes posted: “Gas prices are at an all-time high. Which disastrous Biden policy do you think is to blame for these high prices in gas?”

Late Monday, after inquiries from The Wichita Eagle, the post was revised to say “Gas prices are at the highest level since 2014.”

Gas prices aren’t at an all-time high, either nationally or in Kansas, according to Federal Energy Information Administration and AAA data.

In fact, the national average price is 72 cents lower than the peak price in 2008 and Kansas gasoline is almost a dollar cheaper than the all-time high.

Screen shot of Rep. Ron Estes’ tweet.
Screen shot of Rep. Ron Estes’ tweet.

The EIA lists the average price for all grades of gas at $3.384 nationwide at the end of October.

The peak price of gas occurred in July 2008, when the national average hit $4.114, the federal agency reported.

The EIA data also shows gas prices were higher than the current level during almost all of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

According to the latest AAA data, prices are down slightly from a month ago.

Monday’s national average price for a gallon of regular was $3.394, AAA reported.

That’s down from $3.409 a week ago and $3.401 a month ago.

Kansas continues to have some of the lowest-priced gasoline in the nation, Steward said.

The current statewide average for regular at the pump in Kansas is $3.038, about 35.6 cents less than the national average.

“The highest recorded Kansas gas price average was on July 16th, 2008 and that was $4.02 a gallon. That was the statewide average for regular unleaded,” Steward said.

The current price puts Kansas at the fifth-lowest cost for gasoline in the nation, Steward said.

The four states with cheaper gasoline than Kansas are Oklahoma, $2.948 a gallon; Texas, $2.98; Arkansas, $3.019; and Missouri, $3.035.

California has had and continues to have the highest pump price in the nation, $4.711, followed by Hawaii at $4.353.

No other state in the country is over $4, according to AAA.

Estes’ tweet and Facebook post are linked to an appeal for political donations through WinRed, a for-profit company endorsed by the Republican National Committee that raises funds for Republican candidates.

WinRed is the Republican response to the Democrats’ nonprofit ActBlue fund-raising platform.

The link goes to a push-poll survey reading: “Gas prices are on the rise. Which one of President Biden’s diastorous (sic) policies is to blame?”

The choices: vaccine mandates, cancellation of Keystone Pipeline, Green New Deal and new taxes on oil and drilling.

The fund-raising survey does not offer any explanations for why any of the policies cited would affect gasoline prices.

In Wichita, gas prices that had crept above $3 a gallon in recent weeks were back down to the low $2.90s.

And prices may drop further in coming weeks after crude oil futures fell dramatically Friday on news that the omicron variant of the coronavirus threatens to extend the COVID pandemic, which sent prices into a downward spiral in 2020

The national average price of gas bottomed out at $1.938 in April last year.

That was due to decreased demand brought on by pandemic-related business shutdowns and stay-home orders issued by states across the nation in an effort to slow transmission of the virus.

Friday’s omicron-variant-fueled decline was approximately $10 a barrel across markets, the biggest one-day drop since April 2020.

Prices rebounded somewhat on Monday, with West Texas Intermediate Crude up $1.75 to $69.90 a barrel, according to Oilprice.com.

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