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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As gas prices continue to climb to historic levels during a busy travel season, average gas prices now top $4 dollars in all fifty states.

Local experts watching that spike closely told KFOR the continued surge has reached historic levels.

“It’s really kind of an unprecedented moment in some ways,” said Greg Burge, Ph. D, who serves as Chair of Economics at the University of Oklahoma, citing the spread in skyrocketing costs in gas prices, from pandemic low prices in 2020 to the current pricing.

“And now, it’s looking like $5 gas,” he added. ” [My family and I just] drove back from Tennessee, and you know, we’re literally paying more than twice as much that same trip would have cost, you know, just two years ago.”

Tuesday’s national average was $4.91, up nearly two dollars from a year ago; and Oklahoma’s average cost for a regular gallon of gas was $4.49, according to AAA, in a steady rise following the Memorial Day holiday.

“There’s no period that I could find in U.S. history where that same rapid doubling in the price of gas occurred,” said Burge. “The closest that I could find was back in the late 1970s where it was almost that rapid of a price increase.”

Those skyrocketing prices come alongside news that the cost of a barrel of oil is nearing $120, and also amid reports that President Biden could be planning a diplomatic visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss oil exports and ways to bring down gas prices across the country, as early as this week.

“Why are we getting smacked with $4.50 gas [that] might even go up to $5 gas?” he added, noting the pain at the pump for Oklahomans these days.

Burge said the culprit for the summer of high gas prices is clear.

“It’s all about supply and demand,” said the professor in an interview with the station on Tuesday, also citing additional, compound factors that have contributed to the higher prices of gasoline, including those outside of the control of the current presidential administration and other policy driven factors, including rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit as one of the factors leading to the currently high prices, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and challenges with the global supply chain.

Gas prices in Oklahoma jumped nearly 30 cents, rising to an average price of $4.49 for Tuesday, June 7.

Others also cited issues with supply and demand, while remaining critical of the current administration’s handling of the issue.

“The main driver is that the world is right now undersupplied when it comes to oil and gas. And it’s critically important for us to recognize that if we want to have a durable energy security, we are going to have to make certain that we prioritize U.S. domestic production,” said Brook Simmons, President of The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, saying it would take time for oil production to catch up.

“The Biden administration made clear during the campaign that it wanted to limit fossil fuel production in the United States. And now we have created artificial energy scarcity as a result. All of this is impacting prices at the pump and in the grocery aisle.

“We need oil, the world needs oil. It’s time to turn it on,” he added.

Historically, U.S. presidents have had little control over the price of gas per gallon; the U.S. Energy Administration cites a number of factors for determining the retail price of gasoline, including the cost of crude oil, refining costs and distribution.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General cited a host of considerations, including nonpartisan, while also referring to the Biden Administration’s policies on energy as “anti-consumer”.

“Step one: educate the American public on what’s going on,” he said, speaking Tuesday to KFOR while attending the Hamm Institute Forum on American energy policies. “Step two, get everybody together. Democrat, Republicans,” he added. “It really shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

“But we’ve got to make sure that we don’t give away oil and gas,” he said.

Burge pointed to conservation as a solution to help mitigate the strain while weaning from a dependence on fossil fuels.

“I’m an environmentalist, and I believe the world should be weaning itself off of a reliance on fossil fuels, so having higher gas prices is not an unambiguously bad outcome – it carries both (short run) costs and (long run) benefits,” he said in an follow-up email to KFOR, also noting that there would not be much that can be done to bring prices down rapidly or to pre-pandemic levels, other than a quick decline in demand, or the possibility of recession.

“Oh, it’s unlikely that they’re going to come back down to what we saw pre pre-COVID or what we think of as normal,” he continued, also advising on the possibility that four dollars for gas could be indicative of a new normal. “I would love to be wrong, but I doubt we’ll get all the way back to $3 a gallon.”

“Hopefully the promise of the future is renewables and solar and bio,” he said, citing a need for the world to make a transition from a dependence on oil to other resources for more long-term and beneficial outcomes.

“I’m an optimist. I’m hopeful that that transition happens sooner rather than later.”