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Published:August 30th, 2005 09:18 EST
Gas Prices Are Skyrocketing

Gas Prices Are Skyrocketing

By Matthew Kent

Although Hurricane Katrina has been blamed for 68 deaths thus far—including 55 in Mississippi—Carbondale, Illinois residents are feeling the brunt of the storm as gas prices rise, inevitably affecting this college town and its residents. The massive hurricane disrupted the Gulf Coast petroleum pipeline and energy markets on Monday, August 29, 2005, making oil and natural gas prices skyrocket; people across the country are facing a spike in the retail cost of gasoline.

At the Shell gas station, located at Main and Wall Street, cars lined up filling up at $2.47 a gallon—considerably lower than the state average of $2.73. But residents still have complaints.

Elizabeth Hughes, a sophomore political science major, said it pretty bluntly: “They suck!”.

However, they said it won’t stop her from driving any place anytime soon. 

Cindy Burnett, manager of the CFM Shell gas station on South Illinois Avenue, says she foresees gas prices hitting $3 a gallon here. Oil barrel prices hit $70.80 in overnight trading, before closing at $67.20 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday morning, August 30, 2005.

On Monday, August 29, 2005, a press release by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said that he called on President Bush to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down gas prices here.

The governor also called on Illinois Attorney General, to investigate potential gas price gouging by retailers across the state.

“With the onset of Hurricane Katrina and its effect upon oil shipments and production from the Gulf Coast, I respectfully request that you reconsider the option of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve…prices are expected to increase by .25 to .45 cents a gallon today alone,” Blagojevich wrote.

By Sunday, August 28, 2005, hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 storm, halted an estimated 633,000 barrels of daily crude oil production.

Also, at least eight refineries with a combined capacity of 1.8 million barrels per day were also shut down.

Blagojevich’s request to Bush is the second such request in two weeks. The Bush administration rejected the first saying that, “the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could only be used in cases of emergencies”.

The Governor wrote back, “I’m sure we can all agree that a Category 4 hurricane cannot be considered anything but an emergency, meeting the criteria your office has set for authorizing the release of oil”.

In his request to Attorney General Madigan, Blagojevich stated that the vast majority of gas providers would never consider using a natural disaster like a hurricane to increase prices, commenting, “But there are a few bad apples". He added, “considering the high price of gas already, we must take every possible step to prevent price gouging from taking place.” 

Blagojevich continued, saying, “When gas prices soar, everyone suffers. Drivers pay more to get to work and to take their children to school. Farmers pay more to run their tractors. Truckers pay more to transport goods. Other than the companies that sell oil and the countries who produce oil, everyone else pays more and no one wins”.  

In Illinois, Governor Blagojevich has boosted fuel supplies and helped reduce the demand for gasoline through three effective initiatives: promoting the use of renewable fuel, monitoring the gas consumption and encouraging State Government to use renewable fuels.