The national average for gas will jump to $2.70 this spring, a price Americans haven’t seen in years, according to AAA. Prices in Ohio are projected to remain just below the national average, thanks to our state’s continued leadership in energy production and infrastructure.
Yet, AAA’s forecast should serve as a warning, not because families on summer road trips will see higher prices outside Ohio but because extreme weather and policy decisions at the state and federal level could cause Ohio’s prices to increase anyway.
Last year, Ohioans saw gas prices increase dramatically because of Hurricane Harvey, which took over 20 percent of our nation’s refining capacity offline. They also saw prices affected by the unplanned shutdown of infrastructure like refineries for maintenance. And, in years past, we have seen federal policies and global events affect gas prices here.
While higher gas prices are bothersome for most, they can be especially burdensome for those in poverty or on fixed incomes who already pay an unnecessarily high amount in energy costs. In 2015, the average Ohio family paid more than $3,600 in energy costs. For many, this was about 8 percent of their per capita income. For those in poverty, this was upwards of 30 percent of their income.
Working in a bipartisan manner, state policymakers have put in place stringent, commonsense regulations that have allowed for balanced energy production and environmental sustainability. With more investment in new technologies and infrastructure like pipelines – the safest way to move energy — we can keep producing and transporting the energy Ohio families need to keep fuel costs low.
Chris Ventura is the Midwest Director of Consumer Energy Alliance. He lives in Columbus.