Reuters News Service
NEW YORK - U.S. average retail gasoline prices hit an all-time
high on Tuesday as a tight-fisted OPEC policy and rising demand
constricted supplies, according to the American Automobile
The average price for regular gasoline at the nations
pumps was $1.738 per gallon, up a tenth of a cent from the
previous record hit in late summer 2003, according to the
motorist groups survey of more than 60,000 stations.
gasoline prices make budgeting for fuel costs extremely difficult
for families and businesses, AAA stated in a release,
urging new policies to simplify production and distribution
Energy prices have been rising in recent months, with U.S.
stockpiles lingering near their lowest levels since the 1970s
amid an economic recovery that has spurred higher demand.
Oil producer group OPEC, which controls roughly half of the
worlds exported crude, is mulling whether to further
cut global supplies starting April 1, adding to a series of
cuts that have brought oil prices to nearly $40 a barrel.
The U.S. government on Monday (March 22) predicted prices
would average a record $1.83 per gallon in April and May during
the run-up to the summer driving season when Americans typically
take to the road.
The head of the Energy Information Administration, Guy Caruso,
said at an oil industry meeting in San Antonio on Monday that
he was really concerned about thin U.S. gasoline
inventories, which are running about 13 million barrels lower
than the agency had projected.
The volatile gasoline landscape has drawn the attention of
lawmakers from both political parties, making it a likely
issue in this presidential election year.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon this week reintroduced
a bill requiring the Federal Trade Commission to act on what
he called anti-competitive industry pricing policies.
The FTC earlier this month opened an informal probe into
Californias retail gasoline prices the highest
in the nation at the urging of Democratic Sen. Barbara
Boxer of California.
Oil and gas refiners have denied using any anti-competitive
practices, instead blaming high prices on tight supplies caused
by dozens of different gasoline-blending rules for metropolitan
areas and the lack of enough imports of the motor fuel.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said soaring gasoline
prices are a good reason for the Senate to pass a stalled
AAA added in its release that state and federal government
officials need to take another look at policies that have
resulted in more than 15 different varieties of gasoline being
used across the United States each summer.
While these boutique fuels have helped
clean the air, they also have seriously hampered the efficient
production and distribution of gasoline, AAA said.
AAA is the largest motorist and travel group in the United
States, with about 47 million members.
Photo caption: In Chicago last week, a gallon of unleaded
gas was just under $2 a gallon. AAA said Tuesday average U.S.
prices are at record highs. (Photo compliments of Frank Polich,
Reuters News Service)