Santa Monica, California – Gasoline price increases drove California within half a penny of last May’s all-time record price of $3.49 per gallon (all prices U.S.) yesterday, while U.S. prices topped $3.16, only six cents shy of the national record, and oil speculators drove oil prices to an all-time record of $103.95 per barrel of crude oil.


The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) has called on Congress to act quickly on pending legislation to control speculation in energy markets and speed the development of alternative fuels.


“With gasoline prices averaging more than a penny a day increase, there is almost no way the state can avoid $4.00 a gallon gasoline this spring,” said Judy Dugan, research director of FTCR. “The rest of the country won’t be far behind, and consumers are rightly screaming for relief.”


The diesel fuel situation is even worse, setting new records every day, and hitting $3.674 nationally and $3.899 in California yesterday. “The price of diesel is translated into price increases on both food and manufactured goods, from cereal to clothing, as truck drivers are forced to add ever-higher fuel surcharges,” Dugan said. “Yet national and international demand for oil is down or flat, and there is no shortage. There is nothing, not the weak dollar, not recession fear, not international unrest, that can justify oil at $104.”


The oil price is nearly twice the $55 reached per barrel right after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, “which analysts even then called speculator-driven,” FTCR said. “On top of that, refineries have been cutting back production in hope of getting bigger profits on gasoline; the beneficiaries of this are oil companies and foreign oil producers reaping record profits.”

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