Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Playing politics with gas prices
There's a revolution of sorts brewing at a small gas station near Fallston, North Carolina. The Rockett Express has shut down its gas pumps in protest over high prices. The owners say they would rather stop selling gasoline than pass along to their customers the additional 11 cents more per gallon they say they have to pay than their brand-name competitors down the road.

The 'outrage' factor has spread. In the San Diego area, at least three independent stations also closed in protest after they say they were quoted 40 cents per gallon more than their brand-name competitors.

It's one thing when customers can't afford the gas, but it would seem to be a whole different ballgame when the gas stations can't afford to buy it. And as the price of oil keeps ticking ever higher, this could be just a hint of what lies ahead.

The cost of gasoline has become an incendiary election-year issue even though there may be little politicians can do to affect gas prices. Democrats and Republicans are lining up to say they're on the side of consumers.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist sent a letter to President Bush on Monday urging his administration to keep a close eye out for price gouging. On Tuesday, Bush announced a federal probe into cheating in gas markets.

Democrats, meanwhile, stood up to say that not only does the White House need to investigate price gouging, but let's also take a look at those plush subsidies and tax breaks that the oil industry got in last year's energy bill. Big oil was granted billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives over the next decade.

As consumers struggle to make ends meet and the price of fuel skyrockets, many people are asking: Why does an industry that is making record profits need a government handout? Weren't those subsidies designed to keep prices down?

For the record, the five largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips took home more than $111 billion in profits last year. That's greater than the GDP of 174 of the world's countries (2005 figures). With oil above $70 a barrel, it would hardly seem necessary to encourage people to go out and look for it, yet the government still does. Some people argue that without subsidies, the price of gas would be higher still.

There is something to be thankful for in all this: Thankful that you're not buying gas in Norway, England or Italy, where it hovers around the $6.00 per gallon mark. Alternately, you could wish you filled up your car in Kuwait, where gas is about 78 cents per gallon, or Caracas, where Venezuelans are paying a little over a dime. Or you can get used to paying $3.00 per gallon right here at home, because that's probably where it's going to stay for a while.

Just keep your fingers crossed that nothing disrupts the supply chain, because if it does, the price could go even higher.
Posted By John Roberts, CNN Senior Correspondent: 11:08 AM ET
  72 Comments
Iran laughs at us everytime they see gas prices spike whenever they issue belligerent nuclear comments.

The system is broke because 20% of the price of oil is directly pocketed by the traders and speculators.

Is it any wonder that we are in this position since the oil companies attended the Bush policy meetings?
Posted By Anonymous Leo Bush - Skokie, IL : 11:39 AM ET
There is much politicians can and must do to affect gas prices. For starters, get rid of all those tax breaks given to big oil and give them to your voting citizens who aren't just "struggling to make ends meet" as your article states, but can no longer make ends meet due to the steep rise in gasoline and heating oil prices. It is now costing almost $10 more per week to fill the gas tank to go to work (essential driving only) - that $10 per week comes out of my $20 per week grocery budget, leaving only $10 for food. How many of our politicians are trying to feed their families on that???
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Lansing, MI : 11:50 AM ET
The American public is being played by Big Oil again. One of the problems is Our government is telling us that's not happening. Again.
Posted By Anonymous Jimi, DeKalb, Illinois : 11:57 AM ET
Hi John,
Well, I guess I can be glad I get 30 miles to a gallon..It will probably be as far as I can afford to stray from home this Summer....Take Care..Happy travel..
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif : 12:02 PM ET
Bush was an oil man--does anyone really believe he will prevent price gouging? It's all White House spin. The President's interests have always been about big business--and how to ensure the rich getting richer. Too bad no one can keep the White House honest!
Posted By Anonymous Rachel Delgado, Philadelphia, PA : 12:03 PM ET
I find myself very skeptical when the politicians say they are going to do anything in the interest of the American People lately. All they have historically proven to us is that they know how to line their own pockets and little else. In fact many of these politicians are financially fettered with special interest obligations in the first place. Thus slowing the legislative process and furthering corruption. And to bring up last years energy bill; why did so many law-makers vote for it to pass if it was not good for the American People?
Posted By Anonymous John, Buffalo, NY : 12:04 PM ET
And a good thing too! It is time the US caught up with reality that the rest of the thinking world has known for years: high gas prices cuts consumption. It would be nice if the $100 billion a year profits of oil companies went into US treasury instead to pay for our foreign policy follies. But we have not gotten that far into reality to understand that high gas taxes and taxes on the oil companies could accomplish just that.
Posted By Anonymous Julius Feinleib, Thornton, NH : 12:05 PM ET
How long is it before our speedlimits return to 55 mph? Are we really serious about lowering our consumption or not?
Posted By Anonymous Wes Clark, Walled Lake, MI : 12:07 PM ET
What an opportune time to introduce the relatively unsubsidized renewable energy into the economy. Let's not waste it.
Posted By Anonymous Marc Plante, Middleton, MA : 12:10 PM ET
Does anyone but me remember Candidate Bush bragging about how he could 'jawbone' the Saudis into increasing the flow of crude? "I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply. Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot. Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you'd think we'd have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies."

We were supposed to be impressed that he was such close buds with people who controlled the flow, I think, and therefore vote for him because of his connections.

Perhaps wiser people told Bush to shut up on that subject, that talk of that nature might reveal that the Saudis are pumping at peak capacity right now, and that Ghawar, the world's largest oilfield, is in decline. In any event, you'll notice there's not a lot of talk about persuading the Saudis to turn up the spigot these days, is there?

BTW - David Gergen is turning into such a 360 regular... when are we going to see him on the blog?
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 12:12 PM ET
I was watching Good Morning America this morning. It was said that one of the reasons gas prices are going up is because industry is booming in China and India. Maybe if US companies would quit outsourcing their jobs to foreign countries, the people of these countries wouldn't be able to demand gas. Meanwhile, as our US companies are making a little more in profit from decreased wages, they are paying more for everything else. They just kicked themselves in the rear. The real losers are the lower to upper middle income citizens who are the majority in this country.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara, Kansas City, MO : 12:13 PM ET
I started taking the bus to work this week. Everyone should look to see what public transportation is available to them, and use it. If there is none available, then start asking your local government for it.

Maybe the high price of gas is what it is going to take to make us give up our dependency on our gas-driven cars. It has for me.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 12:15 PM ET
We hear to much lately about "Big Oil". Bravo to the "Little Oil" guys who are refusing to play this game! The number one thing that could be done to prevent such high prices is to make sure that all independant stations pay the same for gas as the big name competitors. This would allow price competition, rather than having big companies all agree to raise prices, knowing that consumers will pay it. My only concern for these independant stations is that this unfair system will cost them their businesses.
Posted By Anonymous Betsy, Lake Crystal, MN : 12:19 PM ET
quit gripping, or quit using your cars....live closer to where you work and walk/bike more...if you drive a car you can't grip about the cost of gas.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 12:20 PM ET
Every other day I watch the price go up at the pumps...it makes me sick!
Posted By Anonymous Julia, Dover, DE : 12:24 PM ET
Honestly, are there still people out there that think this is all Bush's doing? Does that mean that the decline of American morality is all the fault of Clinton? Get real people.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy, Dallas, TX : 12:25 PM ET
By now, no one should be surprised by an energy policy cooked up by Cheney and his buddy oil executives behind the closed doors.
Posted By Anonymous David, New York : 12:27 PM ET
It has nothing to do with Iran, Bush being an oil man, or the evil Oil Company's, Gas demand has gone up. China and India are using more than ever and rising. Gas price will not go down if there is World peace. They are high and will stay that way. Stop crying about it and pay what you must.
Posted By Anonymous Gary Burlington, MA : 12:27 PM ET
I find it interesting that yesterday the Republicans made a statement blaming the high price of gasoline on the Democrats. They must really think we are all fools! Which party controls the house and senate? The energy bill that was passed a while back had both Democrats and Republicans not wanting certain provisions in the bill. I get so tired of all of the condencending and arrogant rhetoric that gets flung around by our controling party, trying to convince us that it's the Democrats fault. They are all acting like teenagers in an after school brawl. Meanwhile, our meager pay keeps getting smaller and smaller trying to keep up with a lifestyle that's going down the toilet.
Posted By Anonymous Lee Fairfield Iowa : 12:28 PM ET
No matter how much George Bush politically postures, he will not do anything that will bother big oil and its profits. My feeling is and has always been that big oil owns George Bush. Its all election year politics. After the November elections the President and most of Congress will stop being concerned about the price of gas. Then it will be business as usual.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Wentzville, Missouri : 12:29 PM ET
Like most other consumers, I am dependant upon gas for my car in order to commute to my job, and I rarely go anywhere else. What an outrage that while consumers are dependant upon gas to provide the necessities of life for themselves and their families, oil companies and their executives are exploiting that need in order to become multi-millionaires. Long-term solutions such as finding alternative energy resources are fine, but most consumers need a break NOW, not in five or ten years. No one can ever convince me that at a time when oil companies are posting record-breaking profits that there is a viable reason for the current gas prices.
Posted By Anonymous Donna B, Bridgeton, NJ : 12:30 PM ET
Public transportation is a great alternative if you can use it, i.e., if your city has a system and it goes where you need it to. I don't have that option. I've trimmed my driving to the point I don't even leave the house on weekends, so what's left? Suck it up and pay.

Keep in mind, after last year's gas prices most families have already trimmed any discretionary driving they were doing.

I'd like Congress to look into reports that the oil companies dragged their heels on retooling their supply chains to incorporate blending with ethanol on the belief they had successfully bought legislation to protect them from liability claims over MTBE. The amendment didn't pass, and who's left holding the bag? Why, we are.

I think a cap should be instituted on the wholesale price of gasoline. Make the companies pay for their owned misbegotten gamble.
Posted By Anonymous Catherine, Lewisville TX : 12:32 PM ET
Q: Why would try to appear proactive about ferreting out price manipulation by his supporters in the oil industry?

A: He thinks he can use PR to appear like some kind of check on the industry instead of an insider. He may also know something the public does not about price gouging and when it is likely to come out.

It is sad that he and his current "talent" think a PR effort to cast himself as the price manipulation cop will deflect any of the blame for the fix he and the Congress have put America in.
Posted By Anonymous David Bain, Arlington, VA : 12:33 PM ET
I hope gasoline gets up to $4, $5, or even $6 a gallon in the very near future. Maybe one of those numbers is the tipping point at which we'll stop standing around next to our big SUVs complaining about the problem and actually DO SOMETHING about it, like a federal mandate of higher minimum fuel effeciency standards (at least 20mpg, especially for the Hummers and Suburbans that get all the exemptions), better (and more) mass transit and transit-oriented development, and a stronger push for better energy standards in green construction.
Posted By Anonymous Martin Smith, Washington, DC : 12:34 PM ET
For god's sake, let's hurry up with the biodiesel!

For my part, I am just saving up for my new hybrid car. Hopefully by the end of this year...
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, Houston, TX : 12:36 PM ET
Your article is a bunch of bull. You must also be on the oil barons payroll.
It does not take a CPA to figure they are paying a lot less and charging a lot more to generate hugh net profits.
We need a windfall profits tax and the gov't needs to stomp on the oil co's hard. Gas prices will come way down.
Posted By Anonymous Harold Miller, Dayton, OH : 12:37 PM ET
The first time Bush got elected all I hoped for was that everyone single person who voted for him got what they deserved. Too bad everyone else has to suffer in the meanwhile. Since that man has taken office I've lost almost all of my grant money for college, prices of everything has increased (inlcuding puclic transportation which is a joke alsmot anywhere) and we're now the laughing stock of the world. Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, State College PA : 12:41 PM ET
It continues to amaze me that gas stations continue to raise prices on gas that is already in the ground. I have a friend that owns a station and he raises his prices according to what he is quoted for new purchases. The fuel he already has was bought at the lower price, but he raises the price at the pump to show the price on future purchases. To me this is just wrong. Something that everyone also needs to rember, diesel is getting more expensive also. I work in the transportation industry so I see and hear daily how diesel prices are affecting everything we sue daily. There is nothing we use in our daily lives that was not on a truck at some point before we got it. The fuel prices are causing prices of everything to go up. I have also seen several truck owners sell their trucks and get out of trucking because there is no longer any profit in it. I hope something is done before the country gors bankrupt.
Posted By Anonymous Darrell Morrison, Hickory, NC : 12:44 PM ET
I currently teach at a remote, rural high school. If the price of gasoline goes up much more I will have to take a local teaching job instead. This will hurt my high school where over 40% of the teachers commute over 40 miles each way.
Posted By Anonymous Bill Metzger, Richmond, VA : 12:46 PM ET
I love the fact that some Gas Stations are taking a stand against greedy Oil companies, I can't believe what i just heard, the Oil Industry is asking for a government handout? Are you kidding me? $111 billion in profits is not enough! Oh and let's not forget the retirement package of the outgoing Exxon Mobil CEO, $400 million. Talk about shock and awe!
Posted By Anonymous Maris, Kissimmee,FL. : 12:47 PM ET
I find it hard to believe the Republicans are serious about investigating price gouging by the oil companies after last year's farce of a congressional hearing about same companies' price gouging after Katrina.
The Republican leadership refused to allow the oil executives to be sworn in, basically telling everyone they were going to lie and couldn't be charged with perjury because they weren't under oath. Even when challenged, the committee leader totally refused to swear them in. So why should we believe the oil companies have anything to fear from the Republicans?
Posted By Anonymous Susan Meyers, Rochester, New York : 12:50 PM ET
What has this country come to when a person can't even afford to cut his grass...
Posted By Anonymous R. Mora Wash, DC : 12:50 PM ET
I live in Northern VA, just outside the Nation's Capitol (not many can actually afford to live IN the Nation's Capitol. In my work, supporting the Federal Government, I must burn two gallons of gasoline per day in my commute (and I'm quite fortunate). In my search for public transportation, I have found that none exists... save a very convoluted bus/train/bus schedule that would extend my daily commute to over three hours. It's a shame to have to live like this to support our Government.
Posted By Anonymous Stanley King, Woodbridge VA : 12:52 PM ET
The plain and simple truth is the consumer is getting raped by big oil companies. Do you think bush or cheny care? There both good old oil boys, the real beauty is they reap the benefits by offering subsidies and tax breaks to the oil industry at our expense. I'm sick of it!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous mike palmer brighton mi. : 12:57 PM ET
As a 24 year old soon to be college grad, who has to pay for all her own espenses the rising price of gas frustrates me on a daily basis. Even in my young life I can remember gas costing under a dollar, which after saying so, makes me sound like a member of the baby-boomers looking back on better times.

gas prices are a real problem in this country. We are once again in a gas crunch like that of the 1970s, when farmers, like my dad, gave us a solution and pushed for it: ethanol. Ethanol is renewable and emits less greenhouse gases. President Bush is beginning a push towards ethanol and the commercials are beginning to permiate our televisions, with the go yellow campaign. Ethanol is a great solution, but that is a bit more long term than Americans can think right now. What we need is the government to lower tax on gas which raises it's price for the consumer. President Bush is supposed to be the champion of small business, but by allowing independent or smaller gas stations to be overcharged in comparison with their corporate neighbors is not good for small business or competition. President Bush is not the person behind inflated gas prices, but he is in a position to help and I believe that he has begun to help with the investigation into price gauging and by not putting oil into the national reserves.

A lot needs to change in this country: We need to utilize alternative fuels,lower gas taxes that directly hit the consumer, and we need to break up the large oil companies and bring back competition. Teddy Roosevelt would have busted these large oil companies a long time ago.

Oh and just for the record, I know the President's numbers are down, but I still support and trust him on many issues.
Posted By Anonymous Tommi-Michelle Ivey College Station, TX : 12:57 PM ET
Bush Investigating big oil, what a laugh! Isn't that like letting criminals be their own judge. We are getting exactly what we asked for. We put a oil man in office, if you expected something different you must have been blind. Thankfully, the oil companies have their billions and Bush will be gone in a couple years. Until then enjoy the ride. War and and middle class elimnation should be stamped on this Presidents forehead. Hopefully the history books as well.
Posted By Anonymous Brad Darnell, Paducah, KY : 12:59 PM ET
Instead of hoping the supply chain does not get disrupted, I hope it does. That is the only way that Americans are going to get serious about refusing to pay these outrageous prices while Bush sits back and reaps the profits. Where does everyone think he will work when he leaves the White house?

It is also the only way that people will realize that we can get by just fine on half the amount of gas we are used to. I'd like to know how much gas the citizens use in countries where it is $6.00 a gallon.

Demand=Higher prices
Less demand=Lower prices
Posted By Anonymous Kim U., Grand Rapids, MI : 12:59 PM ET
And why do they need all that profit. They make enough already. I am on a limited income. $120.00 a week to fill my tank. I just don't have it. That is a heck of alot of money a month.
Posted By Anonymous sandra levy boston, mass : 1:01 PM ET
I am tired of the "just be thankful you don't live there" cliche. Germany is a small country, so it is like us driving within just one state, here. They also zone residential to be near commercial, so many live much closer to where they work. They have a culture of small, fuel efficient cars, as well as developed mass transit. Their high gas taxes are often used to help fund their national health insurance programs, so they save that way. toatlly different then us.
Posted By Anonymous Eric, Kansas City, MO : 1:01 PM ET
$3.00 a gallon is really a blessing in disguise if it gets us to seriously think about conservation and alternative energy. We should have learned in the 1970s, but as soon as the bottom fell out of the price of oil in the 1980s, we went right back to our old guzzling ways. We have only ourselves to blame for this one.

On a further point, it is very timely that the American auto industry is losing market share to the Japanese. If they do not grab this opportunity to bring affordable hybrid technology to the market, I seriously doubt we will even have an American auto industry in ten years. Again, did we learn nothing from the 1970s?
Posted By Anonymous Philip, Westminster, CO : 1:19 PM ET
In Europe people may be paying higher prices for gas but their vehicles get much better gas mileage. My Brother in Dublin gets 55mpg in his car. I only get 15mpg in mine.
Posted By Anonymous Shay Doyle, Catlin IL : 1:21 PM ET
A national strike until gasoline prices come down is in order.
Posted By Anonymous Jane Chapman, Asheville, NC : 1:22 PM ET
Wonder if I can ever save up enuff to mow my grasss. It cost me over $20 each mowing. OUCH! Owell let er' grow! Thanks BUSH!! Now my lawn looks like crap.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Mutdosch, Greenville, Pa : 1:31 PM ET
I haven't read all the other comments, but I'm a little tired of hearing how we shouldn't be upset about rising gas prices because they're much higher in Europe. I hear this constantly from my European friends.

The difference is, most European countries are smaller than two of our states, and a tank of gasoline will get you from one border to the other. Add to that the fact that countries like England boast far superior public transportation systems, and the price of gas there becomes much less relevant.

We as a country have to be looking toward changes, but at the moment we have to live in the wide open spaces our forefathers carved out for us. Unlike our European counterparts, we can't just ditch the cars.
Posted By Anonymous Lara, Ithaca NY : 1:31 PM ET
"The land of opportunites" has become "The land of the broke". This is getting out of control and nothing is being done about it. This "Probe into price gauging" is just to make us feel at ease. I'm not at ease when I can't travel because of gas prices.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Minneapolis, MN : 1:31 PM ET
If actually price gouging is 1) found and 2) stopped by this Republican administration, I will be shocked. Talk is cheap.
Posted By Anonymous D. Johns, Des Moines, Iowa : 1:34 PM ET
What happened to all the government anti-trust laws that govern companies from cornering the market and sticking it to the consumer? Minimum wage hasn't changed in howmany years? If you drive to work, cost of going to work has doubled! Bush goes on TV today to say that we have a robust economy, with record job growth. Why doesn't anyone breakdown exactly where the job growth is occuring and at what salary levels? Do the math, this government's policies stink !!!
Posted By Anonymous Barry Rindner, Buffalo Grove, Il : 1:36 PM ET
A Presidential 'probe' into price gouging...

What a wonderful non-committal way to say a lower level member of the administration will do nothing but make a few phone calls to big oil's lower level execs with the output being a non cohesive and useless report on the President's desk.

Next time you have a problem at work or home- instead of fixing the problem, just open a 'probe' into the problem and take it easy. You are home free!! Example-

"Honey, the pipe under the sink is leaking", the wife says.

"I will open a probe into it sweety", I say as I head for my comfy chair with the funnies and coffee in hand.

Problem is, you can only do this a few times before the recipients don't believe a single word you say- and personally, now I don't believe a single word the administration says.
Posted By Anonymous Russell, Riverton UT : 1:44 PM ET
As IF I have any control over what cars the are manufactured - I hate it when I read this comment. I can afford to buy a new car every 7 - 10 years. Can I really impact what type of cars are produced?

I worked for a major chemical company for many years. Back in the 1970s and into the 1980's we were doing a lot of alternative energy projects. Then the money dried up and so did the research. Let's get that money flowing back into research, and oh BY THE WAY we shouldn't give tax money to BIG OIL to develop the alternatives. They have had enought time, enough incentives and enough profit to do the research themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Midland Michigan : 1:52 PM ET
Someone criticized / laughed at me a while back when I said I was considering buying a hybrid car. Back then gas prices 'soared' from $1.50 to $2.00 and he thought I was such an idiot to think gas prices would remain that high. Things are not going to get better especially when all it takes is another idiot to call Israel a false regime and doesn't want to cooperate with the international community on his nuclear program to make gas prices jump 25 cents overnight. Even if the international community decides to take him down it will only make oil prices go higher, so who wins? We have got to leave the turbulent mid-east behind us at least in terms of dependency on oil. President Kennedy made a declaration that we will land on the moon before the decade was out and we did it. This country put its minds and resources together to make it happen. It is way past time for us to make a similar declaration against mid-east oil and such heavy dependency on our own oil and develop alternative fuels. Unfortunately I think we have our own fight right here at home. The big oil companies are enjoying their record profits and will use that money to stifle alternative fuel development to assure their companies remain financially strong and politically dominant for years to come.
Posted By Anonymous Frank Charlotte,NC : 1:53 PM ET
Gas prices have escalated over twenty five cents in less than 2 weeks. It requires over a month for the increased price of oil to be passed on to oil companies. Every time there is a hint of trouble prices are increased, and speculators love it. I hate to suggest it but perhaps something needs to be done about the speculative nature of oil buying and contracts? When gas companies refuse to buy the gas, it has gotten out of hand. When families must choose between food or driving to work matters have become absurd.

Why do Oil Companies need incentives to sell oil? Why does the retiring CEO of Exxon get a 400 million dollar pension? The disparity in the distribution of wealth is becoming very pronounced, and unless the government acts soon a huge number of voters are going to express extreme displeasure with the status quo.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, San Diego : 1:54 PM ET
Those who elected Bush because of his supposed "moral values" can once again see them at the gas pumps. Oilman Bush gave big oil unbelieveable tax breaks and credits while the rest of us are hanging on by our fingernails to make ends meet. Record profits for Big Oil and their CEO's. What's wrong with us? Stop driving gas guzzling tanks (SUV, Hummers, etc) and head for the streets on foot for a day of protest. Gas Day! It would get the attention of Bush and our Congress and Senate much like the immigration marches have. Until we can completely change this administration at the ballot box, let our elected officials hear and see us and how we feel about the way they're "representing us."
Posted By Anonymous NR, South Pasadena, CA : 2:09 PM ET
Hey Brandt from WI, just one question my friend. What exactly is "gripping" and how do I "grip about gas prices"?

Sandra from Boston, try not driving a SUV or truck. A nice little Dodge Neon or something of the sort can get over 30mpg and you won't have to spend as much. Problem solved. Even at 4 dollars a gallon, 120 dollars to fill your tank means you have a 30 gallon tank. And NO passenger car or minivan has a tank that big. Stop being trendy. And if you need AWD(which you don't if you can drive) plenty of manufacturers make nice AWD cars that get great mileage!

As for this being Bush's fault. I seriously doubt that. This kind of nonsense comes from the same people who say he is to blame for Katrina and anything else that happens in the world while he is in office.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Afganistan : 2:23 PM ET
You Bush blamers are just silly. The price at the pump has nothing to do with him OR the administration. There would still be unrest in the middle east, with or without him in office and the price per barrel would fluctuate and traders would still rip you off with speculation and futures, so just stop beating that drum. As far as him being an "Oil Man"...please... I wont go into all the details..but here are two you can chew on..#1 he was a failed oil man, #2..the guy doesn't need any more money..Daddy has plenty.

Now..for the rest of you..let me give you a little lesson in "Big Oil". The price of a barrel of oil, DOES NOT directly effect the price at the pump. Indirectly? Yes..we'll get to that in a moment.

Here's how it works...Middle east sells pumped crude at X ammount to Oil Company Z. OC Z sells it to a refinery over here...plus cost of shipping and whatever else. The refinery sells it as gas (or other products) to ditributors...plus cost of refining, transport, storage..whatever.

Now you are saying...but the OC Z and the refinery and the gas station are all the same people??!! Well...not exactly true. They are all companies inside OC Z and many are independant.

There has not been a refinery built since the 70's. Most have been retrofitted...and most..b/c of profits available..refine WHOEVER's crude they can get cheapest.

Big Oil makes their major profits on the futures sold to the refinery. The refinery makes it's profits on the futures sold to the gas station..and the gas staion charges whatever it can to cover cost but be competitive. Gas staions don't make money on gas...seriously..ask any Exxon owner...they make money on other products. When Crude is $78 a barrel..they barely stay afloat financially..

The problem is...1.There is not enough gasoline being refined b/c there are Not enough refineries (supply/demand) there is NO surplus. Refineries are at 100% (unless under schedules maintenance). 2. We're not taking advantage of our own resources. Not just Oil..but corn, sugar etc..that can make ethonol.

Blaming Bush, SUV's, Republicans and consumerism isn't correct. The problem is you can't have the Grey Spotted Owl and $.50 gas at the same. time.
Posted By Anonymous Big James, Houston TX : 5:36 PM ET
Big Oil gives to both Dem's & Repub's. I am tired of hearing Bush Bashing about oil prices. Rmember Clinton? What did he do to reign in big oil? Nothing. Oh yeah, he & Al sold some oil pumping ground in California. I see people in Hummers and Suburbans driving with no one else in the vehicle. We need less consumption.
Posted By Anonymous Terry, Mokena, IL. : 5:40 PM ET
Let's do away with trading oil on the Commodity Market and let's start drilling for oil in Alaska. If the environmentalist had been active when this country was founded we would all be living on the east coast.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Watertown, WI : 5:44 PM ET
Why are we even debating the price of gasoline when in Europe, Germany, England and France they drive clean burning, fast and longer lasting diesel cars with milage ranging from 40 to 55 mpg. This would greatly reduce our dependance on imported oil.
Posted By Anonymous Paul Trabosh, Midlothian, VA : 5:48 PM ET
Gas isn't expensive. It's cheap. We're paying half what Europeans pay for gas. We pay a lot more for our bottled water than we pay for gas. The fact that we're still driving big, inefficient cars and trucks all over the place is, despite what we say, clear proof that in reality the price of gas isn't even so high that it's perceptibly changed our behavior. Would you still drive the same amount if gas were another $.50 higher? Probably. That means there remains "consumer surplus" -- the difference between what we currently pay and the highest amount we *would* pay.

If you think the oil companies have some sort of monopology going, ask yourself why you haven't bought their stocks, which are publicly traded. Because you don't like a sure bet? More probably, because you think there's too much risk involved, which is the point.

I'm not sure how many centuries of "free market vs. government program" we need until we prove to ourselves the last thing we should do is have the gov't get in the way of the free market. Apparently we're not there yet.
Posted By Anonymous Mike McLellan, Las Vegas NV : 5:49 PM ET
Does anybody remember 55 MPH?...On a recent drive to see my family at Easter I was blown away by the speed of traffic in the metro area posted speed 70 I would have been runover at anything less than 80...It takes alot more gas to drive 80+ than say 60- why did the government raise the limits to obscene speeds?...So we can have more accidents,deaths, or is everybody just in much more of a hurry to hit the pump sooner and pay more? lets slow down America and drive a vehicle which suits your needs not the Jones!
Posted By Anonymous Brad Boudreau , Bemidji, MN : 5:56 PM ET
I can't believe that some of the government educated people that make these posts actually think the the oil companies pay taxes in the first place. Taxes are an overhead cost that are past on to consumers in any business including oil companies. Therefore, if you remove the "breaks" that they are given, up goes the cost of operation and what do you know, we pay even more at the pump. Come on you guys, are you really that stupid? The real problem is that the oil companies can not use their "windfall" profits to reinvest into new refineries and drilling for all of the oil that we have right here in America because of the impossible environmentalist restrictions. Take that away, watch the prices fall off the table and become energy independent. What a stretch of an idea huh?
Posted By Anonymous Matt Drzakowski, Indianapolis, IN : 5:58 PM ET
There is no evil group of people meeting in a darkened room deciding what the price will be at your local pumping station today. There is no criminal conspiracy out to get you in big oil that the government is ignoring. It is the lack of refinery capacity, which is due to the difficulty of building one. It is the lack of production due to the difficulty of finding new big fields. It is the brokers and hedge funds driving the price up over the Iran scare. It is the demand from India, China, the US and almost everywhere else. The scariest thing about this to me isn't the price of gas. It is the willingness of certain politicians to create an imaginary quick fix. "Yep, you're paying a lot, because big oil is out to get you. I can investigate them and rescue you." Either they are stupid, or they think you are. I would have to guess the later. Don't believe in the bogeyman. Take the time to understand reality.
Posted By Anonymous Justin, Madison, Wisconsin : 6:16 PM ET
Obviously, the price of gas is out of control. I just paid over $3.00 per gallon for regular gas. Our president is now calling for an investigation into the policies of the oil companies in this country, but I have absolutely no faith in the outcome. Actually, I believe this situation is a conflict of interest for the President, and it is just being done to appease the people. I really wish these politicans would finally realize that Americans are not stupid. I have recently read where the Senate is suggesting that oil companies be taxed, which is a wonderful idea EXCEPT we all know that the tax will be passed on to the consumer while the government and oil companies continue to prosper at our expense.
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 6:17 PM ET
Boy those 1.2 TRILLION (yes TRILLION) barrels of crude sitting in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming are looking pretty sweet right now. Of course it wouldnt drive oil down to $30 a barrel (the oil shale is expensive to process) but I bet with more advanced technology it would help. But then we still have a refinary problem, hell lets all just hug trees instead (as well as ban automobile use)....

Oh and we would be completely energy independent and could stick it to our oh so friendly (NOT) allies in the Middle East.
Posted By Anonymous CMS Freehold, NJ : 5:19 PM ET
Well...if I were buying gas in Norway or other European countries at around $6/gallon..I could still get to work on the public transportation network subsidized by taxes. The problem in USA is that there is no REAL PUBLIC transportation network outside of major cities (NYC has one of few effective public networks.) In addition the fantasy of free economic movements and the lobbying of rightist interests has undercut the subsidization of AMTRAK and other public networks. When, and if, gasoline gets much higher the economic basis for transportion of people, and goods, will cause MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR dislocations in the USA.
Posted By Anonymous Ceboia, Pomona, NY : 5:25 PM ET
This is crazy. I'm glad that we have only $3.00 a gallon here compared to the other countries mentioned that were at $6.00 a gallon plus. Then again, with countries paying now what we payed when the Model T was invented, $3.00 is a complete outrage. I think the oil companies and gas stores like Exxon are just ripping people off. It really stinks when you pay way too much for something that's a must-have. Stupid price inflation.

Maybe the government should actually cut the prices instead of letting the gas companies get off with billions in profits AND give them tax breaks and other incentives. People suffer, and the government seems to blow it off like nothing and let it run its course. Although with gas prices this high, it looks like it isn't going to run its course for a long time.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan Goins, Asheboro, NC : 5:28 PM ET
why is it that gas can be 20 cents diffrent on one side of the street as the other? if that isn't price gouging what is??? if it costs xxx to deliver the gas to that area that is what the price should be.. what a rip off
anyone seen the price of AV gas latly???
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Phoenix,az : 5:30 PM ET
The major oil companies are posting Quarterly Earnings of over 10 Billion dollars. Just who is gouging who. Anyone that thinks it is the fault of what is going on in the middle east is just kidding themselves. Business is there to make money and as long as the customer pays the prices, they will charge what they can.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Denver CO : 5:30 PM ET
Here's the real problem with gasoline, nevermind how much per barrel of oil, yes, it plays a role, but gasoline is a commodity itself that is traded. No oil company controls the price of gasoline. For instance, on friday the wholesale price of gasoline closed at $2.245/gallon, now give the distributer and service station a modest profit, add on your federal, state, and local taxes, and you reach $3.00/gallon, like it is here in sunny ol Floriduh. Now here's the great part, yes, in Iran, people might drive more because gasoline is so affordable, but here in the U.S.A., regardless of price, people still drive about the same, maybe not as much, but how much of a difference will it really make if you own 2 cadillacs and a hummer? Not much, and for living in a county that is filled with "conservatives", there isn't too much thought about conserving anything. If anyone really cared about gas prices, you would drive less, and don't drive a vehicle that gets 8mpg. As far as I am concerned, everyone complains about how much it costs to filled their hummer pulling their oversized boat that needs another 100 gallons of fuel, but nobody is willing to do anything about it, stay in line sheep.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Bradenton, FL : 6:01 PM ET
All I know is that prices have doubled since "W" took over the country. We don't have a choice in buying gas. Other ways to fuel a car have been invented...but I'm sure the patents have been bought by oil companies and then destroyed. They got us exactly where they want us. I live in Texas where it doesn't have to be transported as far as other states...and it's MORE expensive? Who knows?
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Houston, Tx : 1:19 AM ET
I can't help but wonder why and be incensed that Congress, once again, for the umpteenth time, is paying lip service by acting very, very concerned and maybe even a bit miffed with the oil companies. It't time to bust the trusts and about 30 years past the time to make a real effort to find alternative sources.

Increasing fuel mileage will have no effect because the oil companies will just raise prices to compensate for the fuel saved.

The Alternative Fuels Act of 1988 encouraged industry to develop alternative fuels and vehicles but was never enforced by Congress. The lack of funding and govt. mandates is indicative of politicians who are spineless and too weak kneed to stand up to industry lobbiests. We will keep paying more until we let them know that we won't take it anymore. Oil and politicians know that we will get used to the high prices and continue our same driving habits. The cycle will continue until we run out of oil. Then, and only then, will our impotent feds take action.
Posted By Anonymous Emory, Orlando, Florida : 7:33 AM ET
Forget about the rest of the world and deal with the now and here, America is not and never will be Europe where the economies run with considerable assistance from their governments. These excessive profits the oil companies are now racking up are the clear result of the old monopolies rejoining after many years of legal break up. As soon as they reunite they are gouging the market once again. Lets go back to protecting the public from monopolies and electing Presidents who do not have vested interests in the oil business.
Posted By Anonymous K. Schneider, NY, NY : 1:43 PM ET
I get so tried of people blaming just the Republicans for the Gas prices. The Oil companies have both parties in their back pockets. The prices continued to increase while the government handed out tax relief to the oil company while the Democrats were in office also.
Posted By Anonymous James, Pasadena, Md. : 11:30 AM ET
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