The last time gasoline cost this much in our region was seven years ago.By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gasoline prices continue to spike in this region and around the nation, up to $3.55 a gallon locally.

In an exclusive interview on Monday with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granhom, KDKA money editor Jon Delano asked about the administration’s response to this issue.

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Delano: How important are gasoline price increases to you and the president?

Granholm: It is hugely important. Obviously, it affects people’s ability, especially during the holiday season, to buy presents. It’s a huge pocketbook issue.

It’s supply and demand, says Granholm, and right now, with the pandemic easing and Americans back to work and on the road, the demand for gasoline is higher than ever.

As for supply, OPEC, those overseas oil-producing countries refuse to increase the supply of oil even though President Joe Biden has asked them to do so.

Delano: He did ask OPEC to increase production, and they rebuffed him. They said no to him. Is that right?

Granholm: Exactly right. That’s why he’s concerned about it and concerned that that decision on the part of OPEC will cause people in Pennsylvania and all across the nation to pay more because it is, of course, the law of supply and demand.

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The president has called on American oil companies to produce more oil at home for gasoline, says Granholm, and there’s another tool he has — flood the market with oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to drive down prices.

Delano: Is there a plan in the works to do that?

Granholm: It is one of the issues – it is one of the acts that the president is considering. I’ll let the White House make any announcements. They are really looking as well tomorrow at what the Energy Information Office is forecasting.

Delano: Sounds like it’s a serious possibility.

Granholm: Limited tools that we have, the president is very serious about this. It is a really serious issue. He does not want to see people hurt at the pump.

The last time gasoline cost this much in our region was seven years ago, and 13 years ago it hit $4 a gallon.

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No one wants to see that again, least of all the politicians.