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Average US gas price tops $4 a gallon for first time since 2008 — and it could go even higher

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Vanessa Leroy/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The average cost of gasoline in the U.S. soared on Monday to more than $4 a gallon amid Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

What are the details?

According to AAA, the average cost per gallon was $4.065 as of Monday morning, a notch up from Sunday when reports over the soaring prices began to circulate widely in American media.

The figure is just shy of the all-time high of $4.103 and the highest since 2008

While most average prices are hovering just below $4, in certain states — such as California, Nevada, and New York — the cost is exorbitantly high. In California, the average cost is well over $5 a gallon.

The skyrocketing prices are driven by fears over crude oil supply as private companies continue to boycott Russian energy and the U.S. and other Western nations consider embargos on Russian oil as a penalty for their attack on neighboring Ukraine.

On Monday, Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, was up 14%, trading at nearly $130 a barrel, double what it was trading for just a few months ago.

Even though many Western nations have so far largely kept their hands off Russia's energy sector as they advance crippling sanctions, the market is still responding to Moscow's war.

"The market is self-sanctioning — in other words, buyers are avoiding Russian products," CNBC reported. "According to estimates from JPMorgan, 66% of Russian oil is struggling to find buyers. This is creating supply fears in what was an already tight market prior to Russia’s invasion."

If the U.S. and other nations follow through with a formal embargo, it's expected that oil and gas prices will rise even more.

What else?

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the subsequent rise in oil costs have renewed calls for curtailing America's reliance on foreign energy, specifically from adversaries like Russia. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. has doubled its imports of Russian crude oil over the past year.

Many business leaders and lawmakers have responded to the crisis by once again urging the U.S. to produce its own energy, or become energy independent, something quite possible given the country's natural resources. Yet for years the initiative has been thwarted by Democrat-imposed restrictions over supposed environmental concerns.

Over the weekend, influential tech billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk begrudgingly called for an increase in domestic energy production.

"Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports,"

Soon after, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz threw his support behind Musk, saying, "Couldn’t agree more! Unleash American energy NOW!"

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, too, has voiced his support for energy independence while criticizing the current president for continuing to buy up Russian oil.

"We produce energy cleaner than anybody in the world," Manchin said last week. "We’re buying 650,000 barrels a day from Russia. It’s ridiculous. Totally ridiculous."

"To continue to ask other countries to do what we can do for ourselves in a cleaner way is hypocritical," he added in a statement. "To continue to rely on Russian energy as they attack Ukraine is senseless."

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