Gasoline Prices Passing $4, Setting New Records Daily

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Prices over $3 everywhere — The question is, will we see $5? — Gasoline now rivals Iraq as Americans’ biggest worry

Gasoline price records are being broken throughout California for
the third consecutive week, according to two separate price surveys.

"For more than one-third of 2008 so far, California has been setting
new daily price records for gasoline," says Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman
for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

"Gas conservation is a top concern for many motorists, so they should
ensure their tires are properly inflated and that they adopt a smooth
driving style to maximize their fuel economy," Mr. Spring says.

More than home foreclosures, more than who might be the next President,
more than global warming, the availability of gasoline is near the top
of things that worry Americans the most, according to a new poll.

Almost half of the 1,200 voters polled by Peter Hart Research
Associates Inc. rate imports as one of their two biggest energy
concerns. A distant second is the lack of viable alternatives to fossil

Only the war in Iraq and the health insurance crisis top energy issues
as very serious concerns for more voters (67 percent and 62 percent,

The Renewable Fuels Now Coalition sponsored the poll.

A consumers organization is accusing the oil industry of responding to
the expectations of speculative markets, not the needs of a sagging
economy or the long-term health of the industry.

"Refiners are now curbing production of gasoline even more than
consumers have cut back on driving, so gasoline prices are now rising
faster than oil prices," says Judy Dugan, research director of the
nonprofit Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and
Consumer Rights) of Santa Monica.

"What drivers and the economy as a whole can’t afford is an industry bent on having it both ways," says Ms. Dugan.

Pointing to diesel prices, which have increased at a pace even faster
than gasoline, one industry watcher says $4 gasoline will soon be

"It’s a given that we will see $4 at the pump. The question is, will we
see $5? If we have so much as a big burp at any refinery in the West
this summer, $5 per gallon is likely, at least in California," says
independent oil analyst Tim Hamilton.

Here are Central Valley market averages
on April 25, (driving from south to north) as reported by the American
Automobile Association with last week’s (April 18) averages in
parentheses and April 11 prices in brackets:

• Bakersfield, $3.839 ($3.763) [$3.686]

• Visalia-Porterville, $3.895 ($3.813) [$3.794]

• Fresno, $3.886 ($3.824) [$3.753]

• Merced, $3.925 ($3.851) [$3.787]

• Modesto, $3.873 ($3.806) [$3.735]

• Stockton-Lodi, $3.875 ($3.805) [$3.742]

• Sacramento, $3.878 ($3.830) [$3.760]

• Yolo, $3.875 ($3.842) [$3.776]

• Chico, $3.863 ($3.795) [$3.712]

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los
Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.858, which is 5.2 cents more than last
week. In San Diego, the price is $3.894, which is 6.2 cents higher than
last week’s price.

Prices across California are running about 50 cents or more higher than at this time last year.

California’s highest market average price on April 25 is edging ever closer to $4. Again this week, it is the state’s all-time highest average price and again is found in San Francisco at $3.987, up a mere 2.1 cents since last week.

Orange County’s has California’s lowest market average price at $3.834, the AAA says.

The lowest price found by the website in California is
$3.71 per gallon, found at two gas stations in Visalia and one in El

Old Bridge, N.J., noted for having an interchange on the Garden State
Parkway, has a gas station with what might be the nation’s lowest price
today, $3.17, GasBuddy says.

New Jersey has the nation’s lowest statewide average price of $3.391,
an increase of nearly 20 cents since last Friday, while California has
the nation’s highest, at $3.888, up 5.1 cents in a week’s time, the AAA

The number of California cities where gasoline can be found for more
than $4 per gallon is now at least 11, according to the website

The highest price found by GasBuddy’s price spotters is $4.59 at a Shell station in Bridgeport.

GasBuddy bases its figures on reports from volunteer “price spotters” reporting specific locations in the U.S. and Canada.

The AAA’s prices are market averages for self-serve regular grade (87
octane) gasoline. They are calculated from credit card purchases.

Not every station is surveyed and not every market is included in
either report. Both price surveys note that there can be wide
variations within markets.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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