How soon, how much gas prices will fall for Wisconsin drivers after Biden taps into oil reserves

MADISON, Wis. — President Biden announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Tuesday in the hopes of lowering gas prices for Americans.

But Wisconsin drivers shouldn’t expect any immediate savings.

“We all hope that prices will go down, but there’s no guarantee that will happen,” said Nick Jarmusz with AAA Wisconsin. “The real reason prices are so high right now is there’s an imbalance between supply and demand.”

As supply chain issues persist, Jarmusz said it’s too soon to know whether one action, like tapping into emergency reserves, will lower gas prices in the Madison area.

However, GasBuddy is projecting that will happen, but not immediately. Patrick De Haan, the company’s head of petroleum analysis, expects prices will hold steady before falling five to 15 cents per gallon within weeks.

Heading into Thanksgiving, national gas prices are averaging $3.40 per gallon, $1.30 more than in 2020. Jarmusz doesn’t expect that increase to deter travelers.

“Most people are taking a one-tank trip, two tanks max,” Jarmusz said. “They’re more likely to cut back in other areas, maybe on holiday spending, than they are to change their Thanksgiving plans.”

AAA estimates 1.1 million Wisconsinites will travel 50 miles or more during Thanksgiving week.

As for the best time to go?

“There’s really no best time,” Jarmusz said. “There’s a best time not to go.”

That would be Wednesday afternoon, especially around Milwaukee and Chicago.

When it comes to driving home, the best time is even less clear.

“There’s no one day between Friday and Sunday that’s going to be markedly less congested than the others,” Jarmusz said, joking, “so make your plans based on what’s most convenient for you and on how long you want to visit with your family.”

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