Global energy prices were rising steadily thanks to a mixture of inflation and low stockpiles. It was high but manageable with public policy.
Then Russia invaded Ukraine and is now finding itself the subject of damaging economic sanctions. This is yet another confounding variable. If companies divest themselves from Russian oil (regardless of sanctions), it is predicted that oil prices could jump by more than 30%, to almost $200 per barrel. The U.S. does not import much of its oil from Russia, but Europe does. Europe banning Russian imports would increase competition for American oil, driving up prices.
The lifting of COVID restrictions across the world has re-invigorated consumer demand and driven up prices for oil and gas. American production of crude oil has increased, although this has not been enough to keep prices from rising. Americans are currently paying about $4.00 per gallon –$0.60 more than three months ago. Some argue that this highlights a serious need to expand our investment in renewable energy, while others say that we need to expand our oil drilling operations. Either way, controlling inflation is one of the top concerns of policymakers.