WASHINGTON - Congress will ask questions Tuesday about the rising price of gasoline.
Gas Buddy.com says the average retail price of a gallon of gas in Hampton Roads has risen 13.4 cents per gallon in the past week.
Last year, U.S. oil production increased more than any year since we started drilling back in 1859, but that was not enough to bring down gas prices. In 2013, the U.S. is producing an extra 900-thousand barrels a day. However, much of that oil is refined into gasoline that is shipped to other countries - three times as much as just six years ago.
Nationally, prices jumped 14 cents a gallon last week and they're about 20 cents higher than a year ago. Experts predict prices could jump another 20 cents in the next week or so.
Among the reasons for higher prices - summer travel and the turmoil in Egypt is causing concern that Middle East supplies might be cut off.
Critics of the oil companies say we give tax breaks to oil companies to produce more and they ship more gasoline out of the country. For years, the oil companies supporters in Congress have said if we give the oil companies billions a year in taxpayer money, someday we'll produce a lot more oil here at home and gas prices will go down. That hasn't happened.
The White House says taxpayers aren't getting the deal they were promised, it's time to end the $4 billion in tax breaks the oil companies get. There's no sign Congress will do that, though.
Some people may wonder if we're heading toward $4.00 a gallon gas again. Some experts say this particular price hike will not last because the underlying numbers don't support it.
There's talk, too, that the improving job market/economy might be driving up prices because energy use will rise. The trouble with that argument is that the U.S. is averaging around 200,000 jobs a month and the economy's not growing much faster than it was 6 months ago. So that doesn't seem to be factor for now.