(04/30/2007)

By Bob Weaver

Gasoline prices, already above $3 a gallon in Calhoun, could go higher this summer and hit $4 a gallon, according to one industry expert.

Gasoline prices have hit $3.07-$3.11 locally, slamming the pocketbooks of several hundred Calhoun residents who drive out of the county 100-175 miles a day to work.

By early last week, retail prices had risen 32 percent since the start of the year, according to the Lundberg Survey.

The high prices limit the options for local workers, move to where the work is, or quit.

Still glowing will be Workforce WV's monthly statistic, which said last month Calhoun had very low unemployment, using the widely disseminated statistic that purports to be an indicator about the health of the economy.

Since few jobs exist, all are filled, making the statistic shine.

Pump prices were supposed to peak below $3 a gallon this May, then drop off before the summer driving season got into full swing, according to the Energy Department's price forecast.

Not going to happen.

Analysts say a factor in driving prices up: gasoline inventories continue to fall with refining activity dropping.

The other factor, America is addicted to oil.

The nationwide trend will have no trouble breaking the old non-inflation-adjusted record of $3.05 a gallon, hit in 2005 just after Hurricane Katrina.

It's worth noting that while $4 gasoline would be a record for American motorists.

In Europe it's common.

The average price for a gallon of gas in the Netherlands is over $7, and it's over $6 in many other European countries.

The Bush administrations spiel that the Iraq war would pay for itself, through oil, has certainly flopped as the price tag for the operation to American taxpayers is hundreds of billions.

Oil shot to its highest price in 33 weeks last Friday after Saudi Arabia said it had foiled a terrorist plot to damage petroleum facilities.

That's just part of skyrocketing oil prices.

If the plot would have gone undetected, and damaged Saudi refineries, pipelines or ports, "$5 gasoline would have been our next discussion. Or it could have been $6 or $8," said Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover, an energy-risk-management consulting company.

The US government essentially has no national energy policy that would un-hook America from oil addiction.

The Department of Energy spends only $1.13 per year per person for research on new solar, wind, and biomass (ethanol) energy technologies combined.

It is not a national priority.

Read ADDICTION, POWER AND SKY HIGH GASOLINE PRICES 4/26/07


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