Experts look at federal efforts to bring down gas costs for consumers

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Gas prices in Milwaukee are on average the highest they've been since 2012.

Experts said the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 concerns in China and Europe are contributing to swinging oil prices, but gas prices have stayed high in recent weeks.

Legislators and the Biden administration are looking for ways to try and bring the prices down.

White House officials said they're trying to limit the impact at the pump, releasing 60 million barrels of oil from reserves and keeping all options on the table.

Senate Democrats introduced a bill calling to end the 18.5-cent a gallon tax to the end of the year.

Officials with the American Society of Civil Engineers, and their Southeast Wisconsin president Jake Brunoehler, said that's a bad idea.

They said it would mean $20 billion less heading to highway funds at a time when the country is trying to re-invest in infrastructure.

"If we deal ourselves a pretty serious blow right here at the starting line, that is not a great way to start," said Brunoehler.

Jim McGibany, Marquette University's economic department chairperson, said he doesn't think it would be a problem long-term, although Brunoehler said it could set a bad precedent.

"I wouldn't say that's going to be a problem with slowing investment and infrastructure spending," McGibany said.

McGibany, along with head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, Patrick De Haan, says a gas tax holiday might not even make that big of a difference.

"Some of these entitlements or rebates or gas tax holidays could backfire, because they could cause motorists to not change their consumption or change their behavior," said De Haan.

He said that could mean people would just buy more gas, which would feed into the issue.

"Part of the reason why we are seeing prices so high is because demand is high," said De Haan.

McGibany said things could get worse for gas prices in the coming weeks as prices always tend to go up in late April when companies switch to summer fuel blends.

"So that's coming still yet too, it's kind of been a variable price increase, but some sort of increase is going to happen as refineries change from one blend to the other," said McGibany.

The average gas price in Milwaukee this week is $3.95, 2.8 cents higher than last week.

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