‘Defending freedom is going to cost:’ Gas prices rise in Florida, US as nation cuts off Russian oil

National average hits $4.25 overnight, Florida average reaches $4.21, according to AAA

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the week between Wednesday and March 2, the price of regular gasoline in Florida rose about 64 cents to $4.21 a gallon on average, according to auto club AAA. Nationally, the average cost hit $4.25.

It’s the state’s new all-time record for gas prices being set in real time, already just about a dime higher than the old record of $4.12 that the average Floridian driver paid if they were unlucky enough to fill up the week of July 7, 2008.

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While those old gas prices would eventually fall to below $2 a gallon by the end of the year, the decision this week to ban all imports of Russian oil, gas and energy to the U.S. has led to new uncertainty among economists, gas analysts and national leaders who agree that the peak likely still isn’t here.

“Forget the $4 per gallon mark, the nation will soon set new all-time record highs and we could push closer to a national average of $4.50,” said GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan ahead of the Russian energy trade ban. “We’ve never been in this situation before, with this level of uncertainty. ... Americans will be feeling the pain of the rise in prices for quite some time.”

Though the U.S. gets less than 10% of its energy from Russia, President Joe Biden committed to the ban on Tuesday and said the U.S. “will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.” While analysts can point to multiple compounding issues at fault for the record-breaking prices at the pump, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has emerged as a significant independent variable in that equation, and Biden himself has acknowledged that the cost of gasoline will continue to rise for Americans as a direct result of his energy ban.

“Defending freedom is going to cost, it’s going to cost us as well … and with this action, it’s going to go up further,” Biden said.

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Economists warn that the typical American household is now set to spend nearly $2,000 more per year at the pump, at least at this rate. Travel is expected to decrease as airlines raise ticket prices, and shipping and delivery costs will likely climb as well.

Rebuffing criticism that the record-shattering prices are entirely Biden’s fault, specifically aimed at the president’s role in disallowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Monday that completing the pipeline would have had little effect on what consumers pay for gas.

“The Keystone was not an oilfield; it’s a pipeline,” Psaki said. “Also, the oil is continuing to flow in, just through other means. So it actually would have nothing to do with the currently supply imbalance.”

In Biden’s statements Tuesday, however, he expressed an intent to look into pipelines that would “safely” increase the flow of oil to the U.S. from Canada to substitute for a lack of Russian imports.

“Let’s greenlight pipelines that safely transport oil throughout the United States, that would safely transport Canadian oil into the United States, rather than bring in tankers of Russian oil.”

Use the interactive map below to see the latest average regular gas prices in Florida for most counties:

About the Authors:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.