Gas prices are up nationwide, and locals in the Poconos are feeling the pain at the pump.
Raymond Dewar of Stroudsburg said gas prices were starting to have a "huge impact" on his overall finances.
"I drive at least 500 miles a week for work, so this is killing me," Dewar said on Friday at the Sunoco gas station in Stroudsburg. "I can see my credit card bill is already up around $200-$300 a month since the gasoline starting going up."
Dewar chalked up a large part of the gas price increase to the Russia-Ukraine war.
"It also doesn't help that we stopped the pipeline in North Dakota because we are trying to go more towards green energy, but we don't produce enough oil in the meantime," he said.
"My salary has stayed the same over the past few years, while prices on everything else are increasing... so this is definitely affecting me," said Dewar. "My disposable income, the fun stuff I used to do, the trips I used to take... I can no longer do that stuff because the price of gas and groceries is going up exponentially. Politicians said we weren't going to see inflation, but then the economy reported a 7% increase in inflation last quarter. The government is admitting it now and it hurts."
Dewar remained positive that this will be a "short-term spike" in oil prices and optimistic that prices would come back down. He also was hopeful that "(President) Biden will release some of our oil reserves to help."
Alexander Torres of Henryville commented that gas prices were "really bad" as he pumped gas at the Sheetz in Swiftwater. "I haven't seen them this bad since... early 2010. Maybe 2008, 2007."
"I definitely have to save more gas money (for) my car now," he laughed. "It's been a real big difference."
Prices had already been inching up over the last year. Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation ($0.586 per gallon compared to a national average of $0.2885 per gallon) first reached historic highs in 2008, hitting $4.074 for regular and $4.959 for diesel on July 16 and May 30 respectively. By July of 2008, a gallon of regular gas would surpass $4.11, with diesel passing $4.84.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Pennsylvania was $4.238 as of Monday, nearly 20 cents higher that the national average. Pa.'s average price for diesel was $5 for diesel, nearly 40 cents higher than the national average. A year ago, Pennsylvanians were paying an average of $2.954 per regular gallon, and $3.336 per gallon of diesel.
Monroe County gas prices have remained above that state average. As of Monday, the average cost of gas in the county was $4.239 for regular and $5.069 for diesel, compared to $2.962 for regular and $3.302 for diesel a year ago.
Gas prices across soar above $4 in Monroe
Here's a look at gas prices across Monroe County:
Delaware Water Gap - Sunoco $4.49 for regular
East Stroudsburg - Exxon $4.29 for regular and $5.19 for diesel
Stroudsburg - Sunoco $4.39 for regular
Bartonsville - Giant $4.29 for regular
Scotrun - Sheetz $4.19 for regular and $5.29 for diesel
Blakeslee - Wawa $4.45 for regular and $4.99 for diesel
Brodheadsville - Exxon $4.19 for regular and $5.29 for diesel
Inflation's impact on prices
Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) believes Biden favored shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline project in effort to "force people to buy electric cars and go green, but this isn't the time to do this to the American people."
The Keystone was cancelled this past summer. Multiple factors played a role in the cancellation, due to fears of adverse effects to the environment and residential safety, including drinking water quality. Additionally, the government cited oil companies refusing to commit to keeping the crude oil transported in America. The crude oil would have likely been used as an export.
The Keystone XL Pipeline extension project was a planned 1,179-mile pipeline running from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would have joined an existing pipe. It would have carried 830,000 barrels of oil each day and was intended to connect the world's third largest oil reserve, Canada, with the world's largest refining market, the United States, on the Gulf Coast.
The U.S. imports about 6.1 million barrels of oil a day from 90 countries across the globe. In 2021, the U.S. imported 209,000 barrels a day from Russia.
According to Scavello, Russia still benefits financially from sanctions placed on them by the West in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine.
"I've looked into this quite a bit and for every barrel of oil that goes up $10, Russia makes another $100 million," Scavello said. "So while we are putting all these sanctions on them, but they still get rich off the oil piece. We need to close that door and stop buying oil from other countries, and produce enough of our own. That is the only was to keep or force the prices down."
Scavello feels the amount of oil recently released from reserves by the Biden administration is "not enough" and is only a temporary fix. Scavello said its only the second time in history that such an event has happened.
"Could you imagine running out of our reserve because Russia doesn't want to sell to us anymore? We are leaving ourselves wide open when dependent on others; we need that pipeline to open," Scavello said. "I know where he wants to go green, I am all for solar and renewable energies, but you can't force it on people. Let it happen in time. Put the incentives out there and do it in time."
The United States currently has about 38 billion barrels of oil on reserve, per federal data. The American oil reserve would last hundreds of years if Russia stopped supplying oil, and imports from other countries remained steady along with domestic production.
When it comes to processed gas, the U.S. imported more than 20% from Russia in 2021.
Scavello admitted there were good environmental reasons in opposition of the Keystone Pipeline. "I've been pushing for more solar fields and such, but you can't just close the window on everything else until then. (Biden) has to set a target."
Scavello said that Pennsylvanians wouldn't feel the real impacts of inflation until three months from now.
"What you're seeing in the supermarket price increases and everything else is three months old. It's based off of three months ago. Three months from now is when you will feel the impact of today's gas prices because of the cost of the transportation of those goods.
"Could you imagine the kind of the kind of increases that we're gonna have? Biden thinks he's gonna hold the price down by throwing some of the reserves out there," he said. "But that's a temporary fix. It isn't a permanent fix. You have to have a permanent fix. He has to finish the pipeline project."
— Maria Francis is a reporter covering local news, business and education in Monroe County. Reach her at email@example.com.
— Ashley Fontones and Kathryne Rubright contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Pocono Record: Monroe County residents feeling pain at the pump