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American Automobile Association: 'No need to panic, there's plenty of gas'

Gas station gas shortage
Posted at 5:41 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 19:33:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Gas prices nationwide, including in Missouri and Kansas, hit their highest average in more than six years on Wednesday.

As a result, local drivers may be experiencing some sticker shock.

Last year during the height of the pandemic, many people were staying at home.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports the average price per gallon of regular unleaded gas in Missouri was under $2 for roughly 300 days in a row.

Now, that price is up over a dollar per gallon.

"I was just filling up and I thought this kind of reminded me of the Bush years because I just paid $40 for gas," Billy Murphy who was pumping gas on Wednesday said.

Murphy spoke to the I-Team right after he left the Quiktrip located at 4327 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, where the price of regular unleaded gas is $2.79 per gallon.

Murphy delivers pizza for a living so an increase in gas prices impacts his income.

"You hope people tip better so that it makes up for it, but yes, it's definitely something that affects me directly," he said.

AAA spokesman Nick Chabarria, said long lines on the east coast for gas are due to a pipeline supply chain interruption, which has now been restarted. He said this is a temporary issue and not a factor in higher gas prices.

"There's no need to go out and panic buy. There's no need to stock up. There's plenty of gas to go around," he said.

However, Chabarria points out gas prices have been on the rise since late last year.

The average price for regular unleaded gas in Missouri is $2.75.

It's $2.84 per gallon in Kansas and hit the $3 mark nationally Wednesday.

Those prices are the highest they've been since late 2014.

"Gasoline prices are going to be driven by crude oil prices as well as demand returning as more folks are comfortable with traveling again," Chabarria said. "It may be kind of shocking. Of course we're about $1.25 more expensive than we were this time last year. The pandemic kind of decimated demand in oil prices and that's why we saw such low prices last year."

Government, instead of market forces may soon push gas prices up a bit in Missouri.

Lawmakers in Jefferson City, Missouri, passed a gas tax increase which Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign.

The proposal includes plans to pay for roads and bridges upkeep, the gas tax will increase two-and-a-half cents per gallon each of the next five years.

Missouri currently has the second lowest gas tax in the nation, only more expensive than Alaska.

AAA is in favor of the gas tax increase.

"We'll support any reasonable measure that goes to improve road conditions and roadway safety," Chabarria said.

Missouri Senator John Hawley told the I-Team he's considering quitting his food delivery job.

"I guess it's a good time to do that now that gas prices are going up," Hawley said.

"As long as crude oil prices stay up and demand stays up, we kind of expect prices to stay where they're at or even steadily rise," Chabarria said.

Despite the increase in gas prices, Murphy said he's not panicking just yet.

"Until it hits $3.50 or $4, that's when I'll really be concerned about it," he said.

Missouri residents have voted down referendums on gas tax increases multiple times, including most recently in 2018.

This new proposal allows for Missouri residents to get an annual rebate on the gas tax increase based on receipts, similar to a plan implemented in South Carolina.