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Gas Prices Hit Records Across U.S. | Oil Watchdog

Press Release

Gas Prices Hit Records Across U.S.

CONTACT:

Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Gas Prices Hit Records Across U.S.

    NEWS RELEASE: 

    March 31, 2008

    Contact: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, ext. 305, or cell: 213-280-0175

    Gasoline Prices Hit Records in U.S., 17 States; Congress Prepares to Question Oil Execs

    Group Calls for Passage of Stalled Renewable Energy Bill, Oversight of Trading Markets

    Gasoline pumps prices rose to yet another record today and over the
    weekend, both nationally and in at least 17 states (chart below). This
    unprecedented rise so early in the year signals more energy inflation
    and deeper consumer pain later in the spring, said Consumer Watchdog
    (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights).
     
    “Even the big oil states of Louisiana and Texas, both rich in
    refineries, hit new price records today,” said Judy Dugan, research
    director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog and its
    OilWatchdog.org project. “Oil companies that have made record profits
    on oil at over $100 a barrel are now cutting gasoline output at the
    refinery level to push up their profits on the making of gasoline.”
     
    See chart of state records below or download it here.

    The new round of record prices comes as gasoline consumption is
    declining nationally from last year, according federal energy data, and
    is expected to fall further. California, where gasoline consumption has
    been down for the last seven quarters according to the state tax board,
    was particularly hard-hit at $3.638 per gallon for regular. Nationally,
    pump prices are 61.4 cents above last year, when price records were not
    reached until May.
     
    “In a competitive market, declining consumption would push prices down,
    but the oil industry operates by its own rules, kept in place by a
    powerful Washington lobby,” said Dugan. “Instead, the economy is locked
    in a struggle between energy-caused inflation and recession, while oil
    companies are expected to announce another round of record or
    near-record profits in a few weeks.”
     
    Congress has the opportunity to start bringing prices under control,
    but bills that would be helpful in cutting both oil and gasoline prices
    (see below) are stuck in a political mire, said Consumer Watchdog. 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 a hearing Tuesday.
    (See more on the committee here.)  
     
    Consumer Watchdog has called for:

    – Swift action to close the Enron Loophole in commodity trading
    regulation. A regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by
    Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil
    pricing. This measure is stuck in a fight over other subsidies in the
    House-Senate conference committee. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.)    
    – Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill funded by withdrawing
    $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies.
    This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up in the Senate,
    where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to require 60 votes for
    passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
    bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby. (Find text of HR 5351 here.)
     
    Price Records, Regular Gasoline, 3/29 to 3/31/08:

    State, Price per gallon
    Alaska, $3.507 (3/29)
    Alabama $3.214
    Arizona $3.250 (3/29)
    Arkansas $3.188
    California $3.638
    Connecticut $3.369  (3/29)
    Florida $3.339
    Idaho $3.302  (3/29)
    Louisiana $3.215
    Mississippi $3.188
    North Carolina $3.264  (3/30)
    Nevada $3.408  (3/30)
    New York $3.403  (3/30)
    Pennsylvania $3.287  (3/30)
    Texas $3.208
    Virginia $3.220
    Vermont $3.256

    Source: AAA fuel gauge

    Consumer Watchdog is a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

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