According to the U.S. Department of Energy, average U.S. gas prices reached a seven-year low in February 2016. That average has been steady increasing ever since, reaching a four-year high this month.
And as Politico noted, the result is a renewed political debate that's likely to become an issue in the 2018 midterms.
President Donald Trump is hoping a wave of tax-cut-fueled economic euphoria will boost his approval ratings and his party's political fortunes this fall. A sharp spike in gas prices could slam the brakes on all of that.
As Americans head out for traditional Memorial Day weekend road trips, they'll confront gas prices of nearly $3 a gallon, the highest since 2014 and a 25 percent spike since last year.
Democratic leaders clearly see an opportunity they're eager to exploit. They held an event at a Capitol Hill gas station this week, and the Daily Beast reported that the party is "preparing an aggressive assault on the Trump administration" over this issue.
The politics of this fight get a little tricky, though Trump unwittingly put himself in a difficult position he may find difficult to explain.
Let's start with a basic truth: in general, presidents have limited influence over what American consumers pay at the pump for a global commodity. When Barack Obama took office, for example, gas prices were collapsing, not because of any policies the Democratic president had implemented, but because the international economy was in freefall. Recessions depress economic activity, which lessens the demand for fuel, and pushes prices lower.
Similarly, as Obama's economic agenda pulled the nation out of the Great Recession, gas prices climbed throughout his first term. Republicans howled, but the trend was entirely predictable, and there wasn't much of anything the White House could do about it.
The trouble for Trump, however, is three-fold.