Gas prices peak at record high; drivers forced to pay at the pump

By Meghan Smith
April 17, 2008

sean ahern/photo staff

Gas prices reach a national average of $3.31 a gallon Tuesday, April 1, slipping slightly from Monday’s record high of $3.39, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Prices are 55 cents higher than a year ago.

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration’s monthly report on the supply and demand of petroleum predict that monthly average pump prices will peak close to $3.60 a gallon in June and have the potential to reach as high as $4 a gallon at times.

“I remember pulling into a Virginia gas station as a kid and seeing the sign say 87 cents,” Meredith Rowe, junior graphic design major, said.

Pennsylvania is one of the 17 states that have hit record high gas prices according to AAA Fuel Gauge on consumerwatchdog.org. New Jersey, however, was not on the list. New Jersey remains the state with the lowest average gasoline prices, averaging $3.04 a gallon.

The Philadelphia area’s regular gasoline prices are at a record high for this year of $3.19 per gallon in the five-county Philadelphia region, $3 per gallon in South Jersey, $3.02 per gallon statewide in New Jersey and $3.14 per gallon in Delaware.

“I have a girlfriend who lives in New Jersey and thank God she does because gas is so much cheaper there. If she didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to drive the two hours it takes to get there to see her during the summer,” Mike Pio, junior English and secondary education major, said.

A new government forecast predicts that gas could reach as high as $4 a gallon throughout the summer driving season.

According to msnbc.com, the government also expects high prices will cut gasoline demand at the height of the summer. Gas consumption will fall by about 0.4 percent during the peak summer months.

The new round of record prices comes as gasoline consumption is nationally declining from last year and is expected to fall even further, according to federal energy data. Across the nation, gas prices are 61.4 cents above last year and price records were not even reached until May.

“I hate buying gas so I wait until the last possible minute to fill up my tank and when I do, it costs a fortune,” Lauren Fulginitti, sophomore business major, said.

As a result of the rising cost, many have been forced to alter their driving habits.

In a survey published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 52 percent of readers said the cost of gas has caused them to limit their driving, while 11 percent have gone so far as to purchase a more fuel-efficient car.

Connecticut’s Day found that many consumers are beginning to “shift their work to a home office or gear up for a job transfer closer to their residence. They invest in a global-positioning device. They talk their employer into a four-day week. Or they simply downsize from two cars to one.”

Congress has the opportunity to start bringing prices under control, yet bills that would be effective in cutting both oil and gasoline prices are stuck in a political mess. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, is set to question oil company executives about their prices and profits in the upcoming weeks.

“I remember being able to drive around aimlessly with my buddies and not having to worry about gas prices,” Pio said.

This is no longer an option unless you are willing to empty your wallet.

Meghan Smith

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