Reserves May Be Tapped to Ease Prices
March 7, 2011
By Jessica D'Onofrio
Each day seems to bring higher and higher gas prices.
The national average is up 33 cents over the past two weeks, 39 cents over the past month, and now the government is considering taking action.
The Obama administration is looking at all of its options. The issue of reserves is one on the table but only done on rare occasions.
Marcus Taylor filled up his gas tank Monday morning downtown, where the price per gallon of unleaded fuel was almost $4.
"It's getting really bad, and it's hard to pay for school and work and mortgage with these gas prices," Taylor said.
In the Chicago area, gas prices have risen 11 percent, or 37 cents, in the last month to an average of $3.72 a gallon, according to a daily survey by AAA. The rest of the state is around $3.62 a gallon, compared to the national average of $3.50 a gallon.
The BP at Lawrence and Marine Drive was selling unleaded Monday morning for $4.09.
"My reaction is that the gas companies are taking advantage of what's going on in the Middle East before they've actually been affected by the price. Gasoline was refined before this crisis began. That's capitalism," said motorist Robert Kiely.
On Monday morning, lawmakers from Illinois weighed in on the possibility.
"In my view, the strategic petroleum reserve is for a national emergency, not just a bump in prices," said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
"It's happened in the past when a president has done it, and only the president can do it, there is a short-term, fairly dramatic decrease in gasoline prices, but you've gotta understand it's not giog to help you lnog tern," said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).
"There may be a time in the upcoming months where it may make sense to release some of the oil in that reserve," said Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)
Many have ditched their cars for public transportation... Chicago commuter Donna Niziolek walks by a gas station on her way to work each morning. She shakes her head at the price.
"More people should start commuting. It's just gone way above what I could afford for quite a while now. I would never drive now," she said.
"Thinking about back in the day when gas was almost $2 a gallon, and now it is almost $4. It's ridiculous," said Akio Posley.
It is a common complain from drivers filling up at the pump, with gas prices near or above $4 a gallon, it's costing more to drive.
"It's too much. I have never seen gas this high, ever, and it's going to hurt at the pocket," said Tim Shaw.
"It is annoying because you're paying more to do the same thing," said Glenn Davis.
The unrest in Libya is being blamed for the rise in prices. The White House is now considering opening up the strategic oil reserves.
"The issue of the reserves is one we're considering. It is something that has been done on very rare occasions," said William Daley, White House chief of staff.
While the supply could ease prices in the short term, some analysts question how effective it may be in the long term.
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