Soaring gas prices have local drivers crying foul

Thursday, May 6, 2004
Nick Wright/Daily Mail Mark Mullenioux discusses the high gas prices Wednesday while he filled up his rental car in Nevada. Mullenioux said the government should have learned its lesson from the gas crisis in the 1970s and become more energy independent.

By Scott Moyers

Nevada Daily Mail

Terry Lorton of Osceola frowned as the numbers sped past the $30 mark on the gas pump as he filled up his 45-gallon work truck Wednesday afternoon at a Nevada service station.

"It's not even to the halfway point yet," said the self-employed construction worker. "It's getting too darn high."

That seems to be the sentiment of most drivers as gas prices soar from an average in Missouri of $1.77 to record highs across the country.

While gas prices have briefly hit above the $2 mark in parts of the country in the past four years, experts say these high prices are longer lasting. For nearly a month, the national average has been around $1.79 a gallon, the highest on record.

Mike Right, an American Automobile Association vice president for public affairs, said there are several reasons. He said that the price of crude oil closed Wednesday at $39.58 a barrel, which is 50 percent higher than last year's price of $26 a barrel. Wholesale gas prices are at $1.30 a gallon and last year it was 70 cents a gallon.

"Those are the two main factors," Right said.

Right said there are some positive signs, however, including an increase in oil inventories.

"But offsetting all of this is what's going on in the world," he said. "It's causing intense anxieties, with the war on terror."

In Nevada, prices are hovering from about $1.80 to $1.90 a gallon for regular unleaded. Regardless of the reasons, motorists are upset.

"These prices are nasty," said Mark Mullenioux, who works at the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo., but stopped to gas up in Nevada Wednesday.

Mullenioux said it was too bad that the country didn't learn from the energy emergency of the 1970s.

"When we went through that first energy crisis, we didn't have a national policy to become energy independent," he said. "We could have been developing alternate sources of energy instead of being so reliable on other countries for our fuel."

By the time Mullenioux was finished talking, he'd spent $32.52 to fill up his rental car.

"That's the most I've ever spent to fill up," he said, shaking his head.

Warren Mach of Kansas City used a mild expletive when he was asked about gas prices as he topped off his car at a Nevada convenience store Wednesday.

"I don't like it," he said. "It's too high. These oil companies, they just keep wanting more."

When told that there were places in Missouri where gas had crept over $2, he rolled his eyes.

"Let me know where those places are and I'll be sure to avoid them," he said.

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