Now may not be the best time for a a cross-country road trip.

The price of unleaded gasoline has increased by 51 cents a gallon since Dec. 20, inching closer to $4 per gallon, according to a recent CNSNews.com report.

Why Have Gas Prices Risen 51 Cents in Two Months?

Source: EIA

“[T]he national average for a gallon of unleaded was $3.21.9 on Dec. 20, 2012. Today, that price is $3.73.0,” the report notes, citing data from the Oil Price Information Service.

“While there has been a steady increase, prices shot almost 9 cents just over the weekend,” the report adds. “This President’s Day also marked a full month of rising gas prices every single business day, following a very small early year drop.”

Why Have Gas Prices Risen 51 Cents in Two Months?

“Gas prices began rising Jan. 18, from $3.29.3-a-gallon, and have soared since. If this increase continues, gas prices could threaten or even top the all-time high price of $4.11, set in 2008,” the report adds.

But wait! There’s more:

February 2013 saw record high gas prices for the time of year according to news reports. CNBC noted the national average was the highest ever for the time of year on Feb. 1. As of Feb. 11, The Los Angeles Times reported that the national average that day ($3.587) was also a record, “7.8 cents higher than the record for Feb. 11, set last year.” Today’s price is now 17.6 cents higher than 2012.

So what’s the deal? Where ​is this coming from?

Well, before we try to assign blame to any one person, let’s be clear: The president alone is not responsible for the price of gas. We have to be fair about this. As we noted in October 2012, the president ​does ​play a role, but he’s not alone:

… the president does not control the price of gas. To say he is ultimately or solely responsible for increases/decreases in the cost of gas is incorrect. It wasn’t true when George W. Bush was president and it’s not true now. There are many factors that need to be considered when discussing price increases (such as the fluctuating cost of oil) and some of these are clearly outside of the president’s sphere of influence.

Indeed, from the increasing cost of crude, to OPEC reportedly cutting production by one million barrels, to production cuts and refinery closings, several factors are at play in the recent jump in the price of gas.

So there you go. The outside factors listed in the above are largely responsible for the recent explosion in gas prices.

But here’s the thing:

… by developing a robust energy plan and by encouraging exploration and investment in all types of energy, the president [could] offset … outside factors and help keep fuel prices low.

But rather than unleashing America’s energy potential, the Obama administration’s record on energy has been largely defined by multiple “green” energy failures and an almost inexplicable belligerence towards the oil and coal industries.

In other words, the president’s approach to energy has done nothing to offset the rising cost of gas.

Translation: There is some blame that can be assigned to Washington.

Now if the Obama administration were to suddenly change its mind on U.S. energy and the basic cost of crude fell, then perhaps we’d be looking at a sizable decrease in costs.

However, considering the fact that the president reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to “green” energy during his State of the Union address and the fact that conflict in the Middle East will most likely keep crude at around $90 a barrel, we shouldn’t expect it to go down anytime soon.

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