2012-03-01 / Front Page

Locals ask how high will gas prices go?

By Erik Skindrud, Gazette Reporter

Gas prices have risen more than 50 cents a gallon over the past month.
The cost of fuel is moving into unpleasant territory—approaching record highs posted back in June of 2008.

“I heard it’s going to be up to $5 a gallon by summer,” Becky Rhoan said  this week.

Rhoan was pumping another $40 into her Ford F-250 truck.

“I don’t know how working people can afford to work,” the Bootjack resident said. “At this price, all your money’s going for gas.”

This week locals were paying close to $4.30 a gallon for regular at the Grizzly Gas and Stage Stop markets in town.   

According to the Auto Club’s weekly Fuel Gauge Report, the average cost for regular in the Merced area was $4.23 a gallon this week.

Fuel costs are now close to 50 cents higher than a year ago.

News reports cite tensions with Iran over the country’s nuclear program as a main cause of the price spike.

If another war erupts in the Middle East, gas prices could soar to levels never seen before.

“The sky is the limit” if war breaks out, analyst Patrick DeHaan said in an interview.

California has the highest gas prices in the continental U.S. A “bottleneck” of Texas crude at Oklahoma refineries is keeping prices lower in the central U.S., an Auto Club report on the situation said.

Another oil expert said a price drop could occur if the current “panic” is resolved.

Relaxed tensions in the Middle East could put prices back near $3 a gallon, Fox

News contributor Phil Flynn said on the network.

Prices traditionally go higher as the warm months approach. Continued high prices could impact Mariposa and Yosemite tourism this summer.

No one knows for sure what will happen. There’s no doubt, though, that county residents will continue to experience pain at the pump—at least in the short term.

Michael Aylward grimaced as he filled his Subaru in town this week.
“You can’t stop moving around because gas is high,” The Ahwahnee cook said. “It’s got us by (a tight grip),” he said. 

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