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NEW YORK (AP) — The nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. has topped $5 for the first time ever.

Auto club AAA said the average price on Saturday was $5. Motorists in some parts of the country, especially California, are paying far above that. The national average price has jumped 19 cents in just the past week, and it’s up $1.93 from this time last year.

There are several reasons for the surge in prices. Americans typically drive more starting around Memorial Day, so demand is up. Global oil prices are rising, compounded by sanctions against Russia, a leading oil producer, because of its war against Ukraine. And there are pandemic-related limits on U.S. refining capacity.

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20 Years of Gas Prices' Ups and Downs

'Gas prices: giving us something to talk about with our coworkers for 20 years.' I don't remember where I first heard it, but that's the perfect way to describe all the pointless complaining sessions we all have taken part in over the years.

I don't much attention to the price of gas. Admittedly I do not work in a field that directly relies on equipment that takes gallons and gallons of gas. But, as an average car driver, I'm just going to pay whatever it costs. 

It's not that I don't care, I just know I don't have a choice. I'm going to need gas, so I'm going to pay whatever they charge. Kids gotta get to school and I gotta get to work. The only real choice is to drive or not to drive. Walking the ten-mile round trip to work every day is impractical, especially during one of South Dakota's patented six-month winters. 

Besides being low-key annoying, complaining about the price of gas is dumb because I remember things. Like that the price of gas has been up and down for at least 20 years. 2021 is no better or worse than 2003. It takes at least $40 to fill my tank this year just like it did in 2017.

But, why not dig into the photo archives and find some proof of memory. Because news stories about gas prices are the pointless small talk of journalism, there are lots of pictures of gas station signs from the last couple of decades. 

Starting in 2000 we can see that rise and fall of gas prices in the United States. World events, natural disasters, and economic changes all affect the price. And all through those years, I paid what was charged.