Biden releasing 1M oil barrels to combat summer gas prices

In an effort to lower gas prices as summer travel looms, the Biden administration said Tuesday that it is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve established after Superstorm Sandy. 

The sale, from storage sites in New Jersey and Maine, will be allocated in increments of 100,000 barrels at a time. The approach will create a competitive bidding process that ensures gasoline can flow into local retailers ahead of the July 4 holiday and sold at competitive prices, the Energy Department said. The move is intended to help "lower costs for American families and consumers,″ the department said in a statement.

Gas prices average about $3.60 per gallon nationwide as of Tuesday, up 6 cents from a year ago, according to AAA. Tapping gasoline reserves is one of the few actions a president can take by himself to try to control inflation, an election year liability for the party in control of the White House.

"The Biden-Harris administration is laser-focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families, especially as drivers hit the road for summer driving season,″ Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in the statement. "By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state (area) and Northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most."

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The Biden administration's move comes as Americans are getting ready for the first big summer travel weekend. Here's what Memorial Day travel could cost you:

Memorial Day flights, hotels: What will it cost you?

Airfare costs: 

Airfare prices will spike more than $40 per week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. Millions of people are expected to fly, based on data from travel app Hopper. 

AAA reported airports are going to get a surge of traffic with an estimated 3.51 million air travelers this holiday weekend. That is an increase of 4.8% over 2023, and a 9% jump compared to 2019, according to AAA data. 

Memorial Day airfare is currently averaging $260 per ticket, which is down 9.5% from last year as well as 2019 levels, according to Berg.

Hotel costs:

Hotel stays are averaging $212 per night this year, according to Hopper data. That is slightly higher than the average prices for the summer. 

Car rentals: 

Car rentals for the long weekend will cost $43 on average per day, which is roughly unchanged from last year.  

Best Memorial Day trips

According to AAA, here are the top destinations for Memorial Day 2024:

Other best Memorial Day trips ideas:

  • Beach day
  • Park
  • Museums
  • Hiking trails
  • Bike trails
  • Botanic gardens
  • Aquarium
  • Picnic
  • Camping

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.