Gas prices get the red light from drivers


Haylee Huynh, Staff Reporter

Gas prices have shot up within the past three months in the Bay Area, and their effect on student drivers is noticed. 

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2019, $3.50 per gallon was the average price of gas in the state of California. 

As of today, gas prices average out at around $5 per gallon, meaning that the cost of oil has risen 30 percent within the past two years. 

Nowadays, a full tank of gas can cost between $80 and $90, and for those who commute to and from Sequoia campus, these unavoidable costs create financial inconveniences. 

“I’m still gonna drive to school regardless, but I mean, it’s a little unfortunate. […] I work at Starbucks, like that’s where the gas money comes from, but […] I guess no matter how high they go up, I’ll still drive to school,” senior Ethan McKillop said.

One student’s family has a pre-set agreement amongst themselves on how they divide the cost of gas.

“Me and my parents, we have this schedule thing where they’ll pay for it two times a month, right? And then like any other time I’ll have to gas it up myself,” junior Alex Chang said. “So [increased gas prices] really hasn’t impacted me a ton, because I don’t drive enough for me to be paying for a ton of oil and gas. But I’m sure if there’s a kid who obviously pays for [their] own gas, it means [they have] to spend less money on other things or like, just drive less, which is hard to do sometimes.”

This issue not only affects student drivers, but Sequoia staff who travel from afar as well.

“It is a financial burden but, I mean, we’re still able to get by. It’s like, the compensation and Sequoia is sufficient enough that I can– am able to pay for it, but […] anytime you’re paying whatever it is, $100 to $200 a week in gas it definitely adds up and you can think about all the other things you could be spending [on],” Cameron Uhalde said, Student Activities Director and resident of Fairfield, located 75 miles from Redwood City.

Though many are affected by this exponential increase in gas prices, a substantial portion of people are unaware of the reasoning behind it. 

As more and more people are getting vaccinated and going back to work, there has been an increase in transportation both on the road and in the air. From an economic perspective, this change was quite rapid, and petroleum corporations did not have enough time to produce more fuel product to meet this new demand, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

In 2020, the EIA reported America as a net petroleum exporter, meaning that we, as a country, exported more oil than we imported into the nation. This, in part, was due to our domestic fracking and oil extractions that were stopped during the Biden presidency as it created environmental issues and destroyed Indigenous land. The combination of halting domestic fracking with the post-pandemic supply issues are the cause of the sudden increase.   

However, supply and demand issues are not only exclusive to just petroleum corporations; in fact, the annual rate of inflation in the US is currently at 6.2 percent, the highest it has been since 1990, according to Trading Economics

“It’s noticeable how my bank account is decreasing, and it’s not only from gas prices, but that’s a large part of it,” Allison Hyde said, history and Bilingual Resource teacher who commutes from San Francisco. “So I’ve really noticed that my bank, you know, the amount of money I would have usually stays pretty even. And it seems to be just, every month a little bit less, which I would attribute to higher prices all around, […] including gas.”

Converting from gas-powered to electric cars has become a very popular switch in the Bay Area, and though not everyone can afford environmentally conscious options, the increase in gas prices seem to be persuading others to consider. 

“We are in the process of putting solar on our house […] and then [will] use that as a springboard to do an electric car, and my wife will eventually also,” Uhalde said. “So yes, that is in the forecast and I would say the gas prices did help inform that decision as well.”

Along with people transferring to green energy on their own accord, this rise in cost could potentially have a much larger effect on the car culture of California.

“Gasoline is much more expensive in Europe and in other countries. And I think Americans are used to very cheap gasoline. So they’re very careless about driving, and polluting, and emitting greenhouse gases, and all kinds of things like that,” Hyde said. “There have been times in the past where I’ve thought the only way people are going to get out of their cars and start being greener and taking public transportation, electric vehicles, or whatever is if the price of gas gets outrageously high; It’s gonna force their hands to be more environmentally conscious.”