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NYC drivers thankful for possible relief at gas pump as Biden released oil from US strategic reserve

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 11/24/2021 Kerry Burke, New York Daily News

Mike Pitter is thankful for the usual things this holiday — food on the table, a roof over his head. But as he filled up his car’s tank Tuesday in the Bronx, he was grateful for the prospect of cheaper gas.

“We need this,” Pitter, 49, said as he squeezed the pump at a Shell station on E. 233rd St. in Wakefield. “We need gas at $2, no more than $3 a gallon.”

Pitter was quietly celebrating President Biden’s decision earlier in the day to tap the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a bid to drive down inflation and reduce the pain at the pump.

“I drive every day to feed my family,” Pitter said. “Gas prices cut into the money I need to support my four kids. It’s not just me. It will make a difference in everybody’s pocket.”

Pitter said he couldn’t believe the prices he has been seeing when he pulls up to the pump and watches the numbers spin.

“It’s almost $4 here, and other places are higher,” he said. “Five gallons is all I can afford.”

But he’s not pointing fingers.

“I can’t blame Biden for inflation,” Pitter said. “It’s not him alone in Washington. It’s the system and it’s a tug of war.”

Entrepreneur Shana Phillips, 34, said she feels the tug, too. The beauty supply maven drives from Poughkeepsie to the city for business, and the cost of her commute is cutting into her overhead.

“Gas prices are killing me,” Phillips said. “I put in $30 this morning and $20 to get back home. My commute cost at least $50.”

She, too, was thankful for the reprieve, but just like holiday leftovers, the relief won’t last for long, she said.

“President Biden’s move is fine, but it doesn’t fix it,” Phillips said. “What’s going to happen in January when we’re really burning oil? It’s a fix but a temporary fix.

“It’s a Band-Aid. It doesn’t heal the wound. I blame Biden for inflation. The vaccine mandate has killed the economy. Nobody’s working.”

The move comes as drivers prepared to hit the road for a long holiday weekend. Biden, who coordinated the strategic reserve release with major energy-consuming nations including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, said the move would bring down costs and pave the road to economic recovery.

“The fact is we always get through those spikes, but we’re going to get through this one as well and hopefully faster,” Biden said. “But it doesn’t mean we should just stand by idly and wait for prices to drop on their own. Instead, we’re taking action.”

Harlan Ragay, 49, a nurse filling up in the Bronx, said he was not impressed.

“It will only bring temporary relief,” Ragay said. “It’s not a long-term solution. Gas might come down some. It probably won’t affect prices overall very much. What we need is the supply chain of goods to return to normal.”

But Steven Harris, 35, a school cafeteria worker, was already counting the money he’ll save.

“It’s a good move if it brings gas prices down,” Harris said as he stuck a gas pump in his car. “We really need gas prices to come down. When the price of oil goes up, everything goes up — food, travel, clothes, everything. It gets harder and harder to survive.”

Harris said he’s willing to give the president a pass.

“I wouldn’t say I blame Biden for inflation,” Harris said. “If Trump we’re still in, things would still go up. It’s not all just on one man. It wouldn’t be fair to put it all on him.”

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