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The claim: Regular gas was below $2 per gallon the day President Joe Biden took office
Ever before President Joe Biden took office, critics and conservative pundits claimed his policies would result in higher gasoline costs.
Experts say presidents have little control over gas and diesel prices, but that hasn't stopped this narrative from spreading during Biden's first year in office.
Now, one viral photo purports to show gas prices below $2 a gallon on Jan. 20, the day Biden was inaugurated.
The image, from an Oct. 6 Facebook photo, shows an Exxon gas station sign with regular gas at $1.84, plus at $1.89 and supreme at $2.02. The signboard below the prices reads, "Just kidding those were out (sic) prices the day Biden took office." The post accumulated more than 900 shares in less than a week.
After being fact-checked for her post, the user updated the caption to say gas prices in her area were below $2 per gallon before Biden took office.
Users in the comments also accused Biden of being responsible for rising gas prices, writing, "He's really got those prices jumping!" and "Joe Biden was a huge mistake."
But this image isn't real, and the assumptions behind it are wrong. Gas prices have hit a 7-year high, however, presidents have little to no impact on gas prices, experts say.
Image doesn't show gas prices
The Exxon gas station sign seen in the image was created using an online meme generator.
The background and layout of the gas station sign seen in the photo reveals it was created using an online template in which people can insert their own gas prices and text into an Exxon gas station sign. Fact-checkers have repeatedly debunked altered photos of signs created using such online generators.
The Facebook user who shared the photo did not return a request for comment about the state she was referencing, so USA TODAY is unable to address the claim that the altered image nevertheless reflected local prices at the time. But the prices shown aren't in line with national averages.
The national average retail price for a regular gallon of gas the week Biden was inaugurated, which ended Jan. 25, was $2.39, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Prices had dropped below $2 per gallon amid the COVID-19 shutdowns as refineries ran out of places to put fuel.
Biden not responsible for high gas prices
Fuel prices have increased since January, but the post inaccurately claims Biden's policies are to blame for the spike.
Experts say key reasons for the surge include rising crude oil prices, increasing demand amid the economic recovery and production limitations dating back to cuts in production early on in the pandemic.
The upward trend in fuel costs began months before Biden took office. Data from GasBuddy shows gasoline prices dropped early on in the pandemic, bottoming out around $1.80 per gallon in May 2020. Prices then steadily marched upward through the end of President Donald Trump's term and the start of Biden's.
Some people claim the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and other energy policies drove up fuel prices, but experts previously told USA TODAY there is no short-term connection.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that regular gas was below $2 per gallon the day Biden was inaugurated. Data shows the average price of a regular gallon of gas was $2.39 the week ending in Jan. 25. The photo in the post was created using an online template that allows you to insert your own gas station prices and signs.
Our fact-check sources:
Energy Information Administration, Oct. 4, Weekly U.S. Regular All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices
Lead Stories, May 12, Fact Check: This ExxonMobil Gas Station Sign Is NOT Real
USA TODAY, March 19, Fact check: Gas prices not as high as Los Angeles photo would have you believe
USA TODAY, March 3, Fact check: Photo of high gas prices in Beverly Hills lacks context
American Automobile Association, July 6, Crude Oil Prices to Hit 7-Year high this Week with the National Gas Price Average to Increase to $3.25 this Month
GasBuddy, accessed Oct. 11, U.S. gas prices
American Automobile Association, Oct. 11, Surging crude oil prices point to more pain at the pump
American Automobile Association, Oct. 7, High cost of crude pushes national average up
Markets Insider, Sept. 28, Oil prices soar above $80 for the first time in 3 years as the natural gas shortage stokes demand
International Energy Agency, June, Oil Market Report- June 2021
USA TODAY, Oct. 15, COVID-19 restrictions
CNBC, April 8, 2020, Shocking drop in wholesale gas signals more refinery cutbacks and gasoline under $1
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Regular gas was not below $2 the day Biden took office