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Feb-26-2008 12:55printcomments

Pain at the Pumps as Oregon Gas Prices Spike

The price of gas in Oregon skyrockets another 16 cents this week, on top of an 11-cent increase the week before. And the national average soars 11 cents this week after a 7-cent increase the week before. But inventories of oil and gas are high. What happened to the laws of supply and demand?

Gas pump nozzle

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - "The price of gas continues the upward trajectory that started two weeks ago." AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "The Oregon average rockets up 16 cents this week to $3.25, while the national average jumps up 11 cents to $3.14. The price of crude hit $101 per barrel again today, after reaching that record high for the first time last week."

Salem drivers are seeing an average cost of $3.204 per gallon, while Portland motorists see an average price of $3.235 for regular. Drivers in Eugene/Springfield are paying $3.287 at the pump, and the Medford/Ashland region is seeing an average cost of $3.317. Self serve regular is going for $3.293 as an average price in Vancouver, Washington. Gasoline prices and the price of other essential commodities are rising in the face of a slow economy and uncertainty about how much energy consumption will occur in the short-term. This trend suggests prices are being driven higher by expectations of the continuing weakness of the dollar and higher inflation in the months ahead, and not simply by short-term supply and demand. In fact, inventories of oil and gas are still quite high. Some high-profile analysts suggest that gas prices may have been driven too high and that a correction may occur in the coming weeks. Keep in mind every other such prediction this decade hasn't materialized. Gas prices continue to be much higher than they were a year ago. The national average is about 79 cents higher than it was last year at this time, while Oregon's current average is 74 cents higher. Gas prices are up in all of Oregon's measured metropolitan areas and in Vancouver, WA. In Portland, Salem, Medford/Ashland and Vancouver, prices are up 17 cents this week, and in Eugene/Springfield, prices are up 15 cents.

Oregon's gas prices are now sixth highest in the nation, up from 12th last week and 24th the week before. Hawaii continues to have the most expensive gas in the country at $3.53 per gallon, followed by California at $3.37, Washington at $3.33, New York at $3.31 and Connecticut at $3.28. New Jersey has the least expensive gas in the country again this week at $2.96 per gallon. At this time, only three states have average prices below $3 per gallon, compared with 22 states last week. The national average for diesel is up 15 cents this week to $3.60 per gallon, compared to $2.62 a year ago. Oregon's average is up 16 cents to $3.57, compared to $2.69 a year ago. Hawaii again has the highest statewide average price for diesel at $3.88.

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K March 28, 2008 11:29 pm (Pacific time)

Well, welcome to the club-as a Canadian who has paid over $4.00 a gallon for gasoline over the last ten years then you need to understand the reason for not wasting a non-renewable resource. When I was in Europe I noted that they drove very small fuel efficient vehicles, and when America wakes up to the fact that they do not need massive fuel wasting 40 ton SUV's then they will understand the real reason to conserve energy.

Sawyer Johnson March 3, 2008 6:10 pm (Pacific time)

Pam sometimes I haul people around who need transportation so I imagine I will always keep a large vehicle for that reason (and recreational needs also), but the majority of my (limited) driving is with a vehicle that gets good mpg. I also have a disabled placard, but I have never used it, maybe that would save gas?

Pam March 3, 2008 3:40 pm (Pacific time)

Sorry Sawyer, you're right, I did misread it. You only use twice as much gas as I do, not 3 times as much. By the way, I used 18 and 25 mpg for your SUV and 6-cyl car - is that about right? Any chance you might downsize both in the next couple years? I was pleased to see a report today that the major car manufacturers are showing declining sales in their larger vehicles, whether related to gas prices, the looming recession, or both, was undetermined.

Sawyer Johnson February 29, 2008 9:56 pm (Pacific time)

Pam you misread my post. I stated that I purchased my SUV four years ago and have 9,000 miles on it. That averages to around 2250 miles per year. I really am pretty frugal when it comes to wasting energy. In my youth, yeah cruising was a normal activity and boy did we have muscle cars back then, but that was then. Once again, we need to be realistic on how we address our energy needs, for we all have different needs and I believe we all want whats best for our environment. Now if we could get China on board (think NW prevailing winds and acid rain and general pollution coming to us from them).

Pam February 29, 2008 5:46 pm (Pacific time)

Sawyer, your 9,000 miles is a tad bit more than I put on my 4-cylinder car commuting to work; I drive from Oregon City to just west of the airport. You drive 9,000 miles a year for vacations and special trips on top of 15,000 on your "smaller" vehicle? You must take some really long vacations. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your usage -- vacation closer to home, or stay home more often. I'd take a bus if I could, but I'd have to drive nearly half way to work, and then spend 90 minutes on the bus (via downtown of course), as opposed to my 30 minute commute. Not a very effective transit system, especially considering I live and work only a few miles from the 205 corridor, which makes up the majority of my commute. I calculate your gas usage in one year (both vehicles) equals my gas usage for 3 years. America makes up less than 10% of the world's population, but we use over a third of the petroleum supply. Like I said, we need to reduce usage first!

Sawyer Johnson February 29, 2008 10:45 am (Pacific time)

Maybe both can be reviewed, but I strongly believe that energy needs must take priority over other matters that will most likely not accomplish anything other than taking legislative energy (no pun intended) away from addressing our energy needs. If something is not done soon on this matter, our country may be in store for problems we will not be able to find a remedy for. Our current presidential candidates should publically address this matter (along with their experience background, if applicable) and provide detailed plans. This may in effect create a bi-partisan atmosphere of synergy. Worth a try. OPEC simply has too much power over not just our economy, but the worlds.

Henry Ruark February 29, 2008 9:47 am (Pacific time)

To all: Excellent comments, sharing good points, for further solid cogitation by all. Thank you for tone and insights, from which I continue to learn. But do not forget that it was VP Cheney who slammed door on major effort to do something except fit plans to precisely what corporations demanded. SO first step is to demand punitive action for cabal now clearly seen as cooperating with enemies of any progress, while huge profits can be continued. Given epochal opportunity to snatch back governance and again establish "OF the People, BY the People, FOR the People", we should now demand rapid, realistic, reassuring action from Congress to get on with the inevitable changes now demanded.

Sawyer Johnson February 29, 2008 8:35 am (Pacific time)

Pam I bought an SUV around 4 years ago and it has less than 9,000 miles on it. The main vehicle I drive is a mid-size 6 cylinder and I average about 15,000 miles a year. The SUV is used for trips/vacations and for other reasons when I need more room. Many people are like me in their SUV use. Moving kids and athletic equipment, or whatever, it's cost and energy effective. I believe you could generate seemingly endless scenarios where large vehicles would be more efficient, so regulating via additional fees or whatever would simply be unfair. Evaluating people in terms of needing a large vehicle to avoid fees, would be impossible. Sue I sure agree that nuclear power comes with a big list of problems, but what else to you have in mind to meet the growing energy demand? Have you reviewed our current presidential candidates policy ideas along with their past associations with energy providers, if any? I predict that energy will be the 800 pound gorilla this summer.

Sue February 28, 2008 7:41 am (Pacific time)

I'm sorry for my last comment, I freak out when anyone even suggests that nuclear power is "clean". Ok, I suggest watching "Who Killed the Electric Car" This documentary will open your eyes regarding the influences of money and power on what we do. We could put solar panels on houses that face the south, plug in our cars at night, and be on our way. I am not a scientist, and I don't have all the answers or even a few of them, but I know this can be done. We all have to WANT it. If it takes the oil companies stealing from us by having record profits so we can't afford to put our gas in the car, then so be it. We have to change our ways. We might as well do it instead of letting the oil companies continue to screw us.

Pam February 28, 2008 7:25 am (Pacific time)

Sawyer, you're kidding. You know people who own SUV's that only use them on special occasions?!! There may be a few people out there that do, but the vast majority do not. Besides, if they only used them occasionally, it would make much more economic sense to rent a truck or van for those occasions, rather than purchase, maintain, license and insure an extra vehicle for "special occasions". Oh, sorry, but that might be an inconvenience to them. This nation has to relearn a few truths about conservation, but I'm afraid the only way they are going to learn it is when the resource runs out.

Sue February 28, 2008 6:51 am (Pacific time)

Nuclear waste? Hello?

Sawyer Johnson February 27, 2008 5:56 pm (Pacific time)

Sue I'm totally with you about wanting a clean environmentally safe place to live, but what to do? The fuel demand is increasing and the natives will be getting restless, even dangerous unless they have their energy needs met. So what do you think about nuclear power? That would be one way to reduce fossil fuel usage. Pam what you suggest makes a lot of common sense, but how do you implement some of those things. The lawyers would have everything tied up in court for a very long time. I know a number of people who have large suv's, but only use them for practical reasons when they are more energy effective than making several more trips with a smaller vehicle. I just do not see a more realistic way than increasing our oil supply, while we also look for alternatives, but there really are not a lot of alternatives out there. For now, I say go nuclear where ever feasible and just put pressure on auto manufacturers to build smaller vehicles, but, lots of powerful lobbyists out there folks. We could go on a ration system, and that may happen sooner than you think. Then a whole new host of problems besides just an underground market. Our whole economy runs essentially on oil.

Pam February 27, 2008 1:35 pm (Pacific time)

There is another solution to increasing supplies - it's reducing usage. Business parking lots are full of gas guzzling trucks, SUV's and 8-cylinder cars - and you know they didn't carpool. Tri-Met and Max are laughably useless unless you work downtown. Build a decent time- and cost-effective mass transport system. Raise the price of gas for vehicles that use more than their share. How about a $5 per gallon surcharge for vehicles that get less than 30 mpg, based on the manufacturer's rating? Time to renew your plates - expect a much bigger fee for your SUV. Make those that waste this resource pay more. Add a luxury tax to those vehicles too. Include a waiver system for those that actually need a large vehicle. Set real deadlines for development of (affordable) higher fuel economy or alternative power source vehicles. Fine (heavily!) the manufacturer if their sales exceed a certain ratio of high vs low usage vehicles in the US. Earmark all these funds for alternative power source development (not ethanol from food crops, please). Maybe some of these ideas are dumb, and I'm sure there are alot of better ideas along this line - but the resistance to implement anything like this is high. Fat, lazy, whiny, greedy Americans don't want to toe the line.

Sue February 27, 2008 12:47 pm (Pacific time)

Sawyer, there are options, but our oil companies have been roadblocking these for years, clear back to when the car was first invented. No, we have destroyed our planet enough. NO MORE DRILLING! I want my grandchildren to have a place to live too. You need to be realist.

Sawyer Johnson February 27, 2008 10:35 am (Pacific time)

Sue we can do both, and now. Our national and world population is growing so fast that we need more energy immediately, not later. Unless there is an alternative energy source that we can switch to immediately, and there is not, we need to increase our oil supplies. Developing a cheap method to extract oil out of shale is a process that may become available, once oil tops $150 a barrel. We need to be realistic Sue. Soon food prices will keep pace with increasing oil prices, then expect hoarding, then who knows what's next. Complaints will soon be about the price of food, not gas prices. Takes a long time to develop energy sources, and the population explosion we will be experiencing will outstrip our current world supplies very soon.

Sue February 27, 2008 9:22 am (Pacific time)

No, Sawyer....we need to reduce and find new sources of energy. There is not an infinite supply of oil in the world.

patrick February 27, 2008 7:21 am (Pacific time)

Gas companies are charging whatever they feel like charging, and they will continue to do so as long as they can get away with it. It's pretty obvious that gas companies are functioning like a monopoly (albeit collectively).

Sawyer February 26, 2008 5:41 pm (Pacific time)

We need more oil, time to drill in those area's that some people have no real good reason for us not to, and we need more refineries to meet all the new cafe' standards. This is a national emergency in the making folks. Time is a wasting.

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