Georgia governor extends gas tax suspension through mid-July ahead of Memorial Day

Gasoline pump resting in its cradle used in articles about Georgia gasoline prices

By Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
May 27, 2022

Tax relief for Georgia drivers is set to continue at least through the Memorial Day and July 4 travel holidays, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.

Kemp suspended the state’s fuel tax, 29.1 cents per gallon for gasoline and 32.6 cents for diesel, in March as prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With Kemp’s announcement, the tax cut is now set to expire July 14, unless he again renews it.

In announcing the extension, Kemp took a shot at President Joe Biden, whose policies, Kemp says, contribute to Georgians’ pain at the pump.

“Politicians in Washington, D.C. who ran on promises to unite the nation are failing us, and I will not tolerate this on behalf of Georgians who have entrusted me to fight for them,” he said. “While we continue to do what we can on the state level to ease the burden at the gas pump, in the grocery store, and elsewhere, I will also continue to urge those on the federal level to change these failing policies, work toward greater energy independence for the country, and get our economy back to full operation.”

Republicans have been eager to pin high prices on Democrats’ clean energy policies, and Democrats counter by pointing fingers at Russian President Vladimir Putin and oil companies they say are gouging consumers for profit.

Economists say there are a number of other factors driving prices up. Global demand for fuel has increased since pandemic restrictions ceased, but the world’s oil supply has yet to match it. U.S. crude oil imports fell by 82,000 barrels last week from the week before, and total gasoline inventories fell by about half a million barrels, leaving the nation’s gasoline supply about 8% lower than the five-year average for this time of year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

And while gasoline demand in the U.S. dipped by about 200,000 barrels last week, demand could spike this weekend as drivers kick off their summer vacations. AAA predicts 39.2 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend, an 8.3% increase over last year.

Georgia has among the lowest average gas prices in the nation at about $4.13 for a gallon of regular compared with $4.60 nationwide, according to AAA. That means an average Georgian with a 15-gallon tank pays about $7 less than the average American every time they fill up, but few drivers are in the mood to party over pump prices. A gallon of gas in Georgia costs an average of 42 cents more than it did a month ago and $1.21 more than a year ago.

Within the state, the Warner Robins area has the lowest average price of about $4.08 per gallon, while Brunswick drivers are paying the highest per-gallon price, about $4.26.

Neighboring states’ pump prices range from $4.27 in Tennessee and South Carolina to $4.58 in Florida.

Kemp also renewed an executive order he first signed in April designed to ease supply chain issues. That order suspends regulations limiting how long truck drivers can stay on the road and allowing vehicles to operate outside normal weight, height and length restrictions. It is also set to expire July 14 unless renewed.

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