The Pavlovic Today obtained a memo WH Communications Director Kate Bedingfield wrote on the current drop in gas prices.

Read the memo in full below.

President Biden’s top priority is tackling inflation and reducing prices, and his plan is working. Even as Putin’s war continues to pressure global energy supply, American families are currently living through one of the fastest declines in gas prices in over a decade. While the rise in gas prices last month due to Putin’s Price Hike was met by wall-to-wall media coverage, the fall in gas prices has not earned the same reception.

Across the country, gas prices are decreasing and American families are feeling relief

  1. Average gas prices have declined by 50 cents per gallon over the past 34 days. Gasoline prices have declined every single day for the past 34 days. The drop is one of the fastest declines in gas prices in over a decade. In fact, just this Sunday, we witnessed the largest single-day decline in national gas prices since 2008.
  1. According to an industry analyst, the most common price at gas stations across the country is now $3.99, with around 20,000 gas stations across over 30 states now offering gas at $3.99 per gallon or less.  Over the coming days, as more gas stations lower their prices in response to lower input costs, we can expect to see average prices fall below $4 per gallon in several states. 

States with at least one gas station offering gas for $3.99 per gallon or less, as of 7/14 according to GasBuddy

  1. The result is real breathing room for American families who are now spending less on filling their cars. At current prices, the average American driver will spend about $25/month less on gasoline than they would have if prices had stayed at their June peak. Economy-wide, that means American drivers are saving around $190 million each day from lower gas prices. And, since gasoline prices affect the prices of other goods and services through transportation costs – including food, both households that drive and households that don’t directly benefit from lower gasoline prices. 

President Biden has taken historic actions to address Putin’s Price Hike at the pump and increase the global supply of oil

He’s releasing a record one million barrels of oil per day on average from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) – since the President’s announcement in March, the SPR has released 84 million barrels. And, the President rallied our global partners to release a combined 240 million barrels of oil. These releases have had an outsized effect at a time when the market is especially tight. In fact, as one leading oil market analyst put it, “the US has become the world’s oil barrel of last resort, single handedly keeping prices in the energy market from exploding even higher by selling a large chunk of its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”

We expect gas prices to continue to decrease in the near term

If oil prices stay at or below current levels, gas prices will decline further. That’s because while oil prices have decreased by about 20 percent since their June peak, prices at the pump have only fallen about 10 percent over the same period. And while wholesale gas prices are down by about a dollar per gallon from their June highs, retail gas prices have come down by only 50 cents. 

At the same time, refiners’ profit margins per gallon of gas are averaging about 90 cents last week – roughly double what’s typical for this time of year. Retailers’ profit margins per gallon of gas averaged around $1.30 last week – more than 50 cents above what’s typical for this time of year.

Gas prices have room to fall significantly more, and President Biden is demanding that oil and gas companies quickly bring down the price at the pump when the price of oil drops. 

Despite the data, you wouldn’t know gas prices are coming down from watching the evening news or reading the paper

During the run up of gas prices earlier this summer, there was intense media coverage of the price of gas. In the first half of June, as gas prices rose, there were 2,987 headlines including the phrase “gas prices.” Network evening news broadcasts (Monday-Friday) beat the drums about rising gas prices about 70 times in that same period. Many of those broadcasts gave airtime to Congressional Republicans baselessly placing blame for rising gas prices on President Biden. 

Now, as prices are falling, there have been just 1,723 headlines on gas prices. And, evening news broadcasts have mentioned gas prices just over 30 times from July 1 through July 16, and often only in passing. As just one example, CBS Evening News aired four segments longer than two minutes about gas prices in the first two weeks of June. By contrast, the fall in prices garnered less than one minute of coverage from July 1 through July 16.

Even the few mentions gas prices got in July weren’t necessarily focused on how prices have come down. Case in point: the Washington Post chose to speculate about how falling prices now could be bad in the future, writing “drivers relieved by the recent dip in gas prices may be in for a shock when the summer winds down, with energy analysts warning a fresh round of price surges could emerge as soon as October.” 

The facts are clear: the sustained, 34 day decrease in the price of gas is important news for families across the country. It’s important progress in giving families more breathing room – saving drivers $25 per month. Yet the media is doing its own version of rockets and feathers – covering the spike, but not the drop.  This is an issue that matters tremendously to American families and coverage should reflect the drop as intensely as it reflected the rise.

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