Last Updated:July 28 @ 11:01 am

Unhappy public not sure who to blame for high gas

By John Rogers

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Families canceling vacations. Fishermen watching their profits burn up along with their boats' gasoline. Drivers buying only a few gallons of gas at a time because they can't afford to fill the tank.

From all corners of the country, Americans are irritated these days by record-high fuel prices that have soared above $4 a gallon in some states and could top $5 by summer. And the cost is becoming a political issue just as the presidential campaign kicks into high gear.

Some blame President Barack Obama. Some just cite "the government," while others believe it's the work of big, greedy oil companies. No matter who is responsible, almost everyone seems to want the government to do something, even if people aren't sure what, exactly, it should or can do.

A Gallup poll this month found 85 percent of U.S. adults believe the president and Congress "should take immediate actions to try to control the rising price of gas." An Associated Press-GfK poll last month showed 71 percent believe gas prices are a "very" or "extremely" important matter.

Chris Kaufman, who spends $120 a week on gas to travel the 60 miles between his two jobs, at the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls and at a hotel in Vermillion, S.D., blames the price spike on threats from Iran to cut off oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

"I think the candidates running for president need to take a good hard look at that and determine what their foreign policy is going to be for countries that threaten to do that," he said. "It's going to affect every single citizen in the United States."

Still, he believes the president has little control over gas prices, adding that it is commodities traders who really dictate prices.

Trucker Cory Nissen of Ruther Glen, Va., agrees.

"The president is nothing but a fall guy," Nissen said as he took a break from his rig at a stop in Wilton, N.Y., earlier this week.

Nissen, who is paid by the mile, said he has seen his paychecks shrink because his employer has cut back delivery runs in reaction to the rising cost of fuel. "It needs to change and change quick," he said. "I got bills I got to pay, and half the time I can't pay them."

On the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney called on Obama last weekend to fire his energy secretary, interior secretary and Environmental Protection Agency administrator, dubbing them "the gas-hike trio." Fellow Republican Newt Gingrich promised to roll the price of gas back to $2.50 a gallon if he is elected.

Obama mocked Gingrich's promise, saying, "They start acting like they've got a magic wand and will give you cheap gas forever if you elect us."

Amy Lis of Buffalo, N.Y., and her boyfriend canceled their vacation to Florida this spring in favor of a three-hour drive to Cleveland for an overnight stay and a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even that trip will cost more than $100 in gas.

"It's more than our hotel," she said as she filled up her boyfriend's Ford Ranger pickup.

In truth, there is not a lot the president and Congress can do in the short term to push down gasoline prices. They are tied to oil prices, which have climbed in recent months, pushed by increased consumption from developing nations in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and by concerns about supply disruptions in Iran and elsewhere.

Mike Siroub, who has operated a Union Oil station in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia for 25 years, said customers who used to fill up their tanks now put in just $10 or $20 at a time, telling him that that's all they can afford and that they are driving less or using more fuel-efficient cars.

He himself has joined them.

"I used to have a car with a big V-8 engine," he said. "I traded it for a four-cylinder Toyota Camry."

Among the things the government can do to bring relief to drivers is reduce gasoline taxes or push to get more fuel-efficient cars on the road. The first new fuel standards since 1990 are just now going into effect, and the U.S. auto fleet is more efficient than ever.

People are still feeling the pain.

"When I go out to change the prices, they honk their horns and yell at me," said Siroub whose station's cheapest grade of gas, regular unleaded, was selling for $4.44 a gallon earlier this week. "The other day one person even gave me the finger."

In New York City, some cab drivers say the high cost of gas is prompting them to race through the streets of Manhattan even more recklessly than usual to pick up more passengers during a shift.

"When the gas is up, the money you make is going down," said Less Sylla, who paid $4.17 a gallon earlier this week. "You see a lot of drivers, they're driving, boom-boom-boom, because the lease is too high and it's working on their minds. So that's why they go like that, and it causes a lot of accidents."

Sylla, who said he will vote for Obama, blames greedy oil companies.

In Anchorage, Alaska, general contractor W.M. Lewis said he has had to raises his prices to keep his half-dozen trucks running. "It affects your bottom-line pricing," he said as he put $90.13 worth of gas, at $4.25 a gallon, into one of those trucks.

Milton Walker Jr., whose Louisiana tour company takes vacationers on boat rides through the alligator-infested swamps, said he raised prices last year because of the increased cost of fuel and will do it again if gas hits $5 a gallon. He blames the Federal Reserve, saying it hasn't kept inflation in check.

"I don't think it matters who's president," he said.

Shrimpers in Louisiana and lobstermen in Maine complain that high fuel prices are cutting into their profits. Craig Rogers, who burns through 50 gallons of gas a day tending his lobster traps along Maine's rocky coast, blames commodities traders, though he questions whether politicians are doing enough. He said politicians are too well off to really grasp what ordinary people are going through.

"They can say they feel for us, they can say they understand us, but when you have that kind of money, there's no way you can truly understand what we're feeling," he said.

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Associated Press Writers Jim Drinkard in Washington; Cain Burdeau in Louisiana; Chris Carola in Albany, N.Y.; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y.; Jonathan Fahey and Christopher Hawley in New York; Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine; Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage, Alaska; and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this story.

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32 Comments

  1. genesalComment by genesal
    March 22, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    Obviously, O is doing all he can to discourage gasoline and oil and nothing to reduce the price. This is what he wants, this is his policy. It’s not even a question. Only the blind can’t see this.

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    • mcrankComment by mcrank
      March 22, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

      Certainly didn’t stop him and Michelle from taking several extravagant and expensive vacations—in separate vehicles which consume quite a bit more gas than cars.

      And he’s concerned for the American people—yeah—uh-huh.

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  2. galexComment by galex
    March 22, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    “”When the gas is up, the money you make is going down,” said Less Sylla, who paid $4.17 a gallon earlier this week. “You see a lot of drivers, they’re driving, boom-boom-boom, because the lease is too high and it’s working on their minds. So that’s why they go like that, and it causes a lot of accidents.”

    Sylla, who said he will vote for Obama, blames greedy oil companies.”

    In the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is, as Stupid does.”

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    Rating: 4.5/5 (33 votes cast)
  3. ssgkenComment by ssgken
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Ovomit ran on “Hope and Change”. The hope those idiots voted for sure isn’t the change they got. VOTE RIGHT! VOTE HIM OUT IN 2012!

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (29 votes cast)
  4. jenerseaComment by jenersea
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

    Don’t know who to blame about the gas prices? Are you kidding me? Reign in the EPA, lets use coal to fire the power plants. Lower the gasoline taxes. Drill more and extend the pipe line. Of course none of the morons in Washington can figure it out anymore.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      March 22, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

      There was no problem with who to blame when Bush was in office. As soon as gas got near $3 per gallon, there were numerous calls for Bush and Cheney to be hanged because they were “greedy oil men”.

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  5. IndependentComment by Independent
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

    Of course the President and/or the Congress can’t change the PRICE of Gass, however, they do control the POLICIES that affect the PRICE of Gas. Who says NO to the Pipeline? Who is stopping drilling on Government Land?

    Rhetorical questions.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      March 22, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

      Who also said if you want to open a coal-fired power plant you could, but he would see to it that you were bankrupted?

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  6. jimbo01Comment by jimbo01
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    I worked on the Alaskan Pipeline Project many years ago (1964-1965) and can tell you the oil, at that time, was being shipped to Japan from Valdez. We have enough oil to become very oil independent plus supply many jobs. We need to get most of our congressmen, and President out of office. Where is… of, by, and for the people?

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  7. effwingerComment by effwinger
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Its just so easy to keep blaming Bush and his big oil buddies. It worked on the majority of uninformed voters last time, and the Dimocrats are doubling down on stupid again. Tidal wave en route….

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  8. 83ragtop50Comment by 83ragtop50
    March 22, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    This reads like a typical AP story. Not quite as far left as a New York Times piece. They need to come to rural Tennessee and ask their questions. We have an answer and it is NOT spelled O-B-A-M-A!

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  9. RME KRNLComment by RME KRNL
    March 22, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    Gee, the hypocritical and double standard Democrats and other liberals, along with the liberal lamestream meee-dya, didn’t even hesitate to blame Bush when gas prices went up during his administration.

    What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. No matter what Obama and his henchmen and handmaidens among liberals and in the MSM say by way of excuses, he’s president, so he’s stuck with it…..and should be.

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  10. billwvComment by billwv
    March 22, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    Only one question: How’s that Obamie ‘hope’ and ‘change’ working for you now? Get rid of Ozero in November !

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  11. arcturus6Comment by arcturus6
    March 22, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    Obama’s radical program for alternative energy sources and his refusal to allow more oil and gas exploration in the U.S. is part of the problem. The idiots (lapdogs one and all) he has placed in charge of carrying out his so-called energy/fuel policies need to be institutionalised. I am not saying there aren’t other factors as well involved in the high cost of oil/gasoline, but certainly this marxist parasite can share part of the blame. As I see it, he wants the high prices as part of his radical “green energy” program and since these high prices do not affect him and Michelle–they love traveling all over the world at taxpayers’ expense–he does not care one iota about those of us effected by the obscene rise in fuel prices! So much for “hope and change!” Let’s change that to “hopeless and changeless!”

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  12. makesenseComment by makesense
    March 22, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    The Democrats in congress has been opposed to drilling for oil for the last 10 years. Obama is stopping oil exploration (canceled the offshore oil leases two years ago) and oil distribution (Keystone Pipeline XL) to bring up the price of gas so we the people will buy electric cars, solar panels and windmills. His own Secretary of Energy publicly stated that we should pay the same amount as the Europeans ($10 per gallon now) to wean us off the use of crude oil and get the country into “green energy”. This is why Obama appointed him Secretary of Energy. They are pushing Obama’s energy Agenda. These are the people who should be blamed.

    Now that the election is looming and Obama and the Democrats want to get reelected, they are reversing course — temporarily. That is, until after the election when they can continue blocking oil exploration and distribution. Obama is now saying he will push approval of the Keystone Pipeline … at least the one from Oklahoma (but not the section from Canada).

    Had the Democrats not stopped oil exploration 10 years ago, we would by now have a lot more oil supply and a lot less pressure from the market and the price of oil will be a lot lower. It is all the law of supply and demand. The more oil available, the lower the price.

    However, be aware. We have not seen really high gas prices yet. Wait until Israel bombs the Iranians and the Iranians retaliate by blocking the straight of Hormuz. 25% of the worlds oil supply will stop, we will have an oil shortage and gas will be $20 a gallon…. if you can get it. There will be rationing just like in 1974 and the economy will tank! Millions will be unemployed and will have a much deeper recession than in 2008.

    And what will Obama then say? The speculators and oil companies are responsible! He will claim that it is beyond his control! And the American public will buy that and vote him again for another 4 years!

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  13. bcass2Comment by bcass2
    March 22, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    It’s amazing how when President Bush was in office, he got the blame, but now that OBAMA is in office nobody knows who to blame? figures.

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  14. Jim PootieComment by Jim Pootie
    March 22, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    The MSM, left and right all fail to recognize the primary driver of high oil/gas prices (even though they ALL know the correct answer). The answer of course, is a DEVALUED CURRENCY. Look at oil prices versus gold. Relatively speaking, oil is actually CHEAP right now.

    The issue is that, the past two administrations have let the Federal Reserve expand our currency more than every other administration COMBINED. Gee, what a shocker that it results in rising oil prices. That, in turn, leads to inflation of other goods and services. Bernanke is quick to say that oil is inflating the costs of goods and services. But he fails to mention WHY oil costs are rising.

    To be sure, strained relations with Iran and speculation certainly aren’t helping prices. But they aren’t the main driver. Rather, they’re being used by both political parties as a distraction to further their interests (subsidies and tax breaks) while avoiding discussion of the real problem: Monetary policy.

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    • KMcCComment by KMcC
      March 22, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

      So very true. bad currency leeds to higher prices. Please note we have 200 years supply of petrolium for use in the USA even without the foreign stuff. However, we must allow our companies to actually drill on government land to get the oil out. Obama LIES when he says we have only 2% of the worlds Oil, Ha, more than half of the USA was under water by shallow seas for over 60 million years. During those years petrolium was being produced (well the critters that use sun light to live and then die to make it). The actual scale of oil in the USA is enormus, just drill baby drill.
      Yes, we do need to develop source of nuclear enegy (just not near major fault lines) and green energy, for SOME of our near term transportation (40 years) and heating and cooling needs. However, based on current civiliztion needs, oil is used to produce over 4,000 products we use everyday. Like TVs, cell phones, tennis shoes, 40% of automobile parts, toy, eye wear, ie. all plastic and most synthetic items, etc. Good luck convencing the masses they don’t need these products. Look at the old western movies and see if you really want to live like that, even with electric transportion, not something I would like to experience.

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  15. Doc SmithComment by Doc Smith
    March 22, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    Again, I tell you, blame the oil companies. They are turning around and exporting gas and oil out of the country to keep supply low and maximizing their profits. For all the oil we import, they are exporting oil and gas to China and other places that don’t like us. So put the blame where it belongs. The oil companies.

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    • AMVoterComment by AMVoter
      March 22, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

      You should try pulling your head out of Obama’s arse and take a look at his policies. You might actually learn something. Obama has shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and has been slow-walking drilling permits, he banned offshore drilling over other coasts, and he denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. If you are smart enough to do a little research you’ll see that Democrats have been obstructing oil drill for over 20 years.

      And don’t forget to look up Schumer begging Clinton to ask the Saudis to drill more oil, or Obama announcing that American would be Brazil’s best customer for oil.

      Now, take your ignorance and go back to Huffington with the rest of the empty-headed leftists.

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  16. middlegroundComment by middleground
    March 22, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

    Why are we paying $5.00/gal for gas? Simple we’ve been conned into thinking there are no consequences to our naïve and compassionate view of the world, but we will be lucky if prices don’t go much higher as the dollar plummets. However, if they don’t go skyhigh, it will be because our private oil companies developed a way to recover oil and natural gas from jointed impervious shales and we have a lot of such shales in this country. The cost of every item we use is tied to the cost of energy, so we’d better get realistic very quickly or face massive inflation and the collapse of our economy.

    Historically, when President Ford and a consortium headed by the Exxon Corporation cooperated in an effort to avoid what is currently happening in rising gas prices by bringing into production some of the Colorado Oil shales, their efforts were negated by President Carter cancelling all the contracts and simultaneously allowing foreign oil interests to destroy our secondary recovery companies by dumping cheap oil into our domestic market. It got worse under President Clinton when he withdrew almost all onshore federal land from exploration and has finally become the current crisis under President Obama. We currently import 9 billion barrels of oil, use 12 billion and pay 1 trillion to buy foreign oil and natural gas. However, we are shipping Alaskan oil to Asia because we can’t refine it economically and we’ve also allowed China to buy some of our oil fields and production as well as allowing propagandists to convince our public to not allow the use of our nation’s massive coal resources in place of oil.

    It seems at times that for the last 40 years the leadership of the Democratic Party has been owned and controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC) as well as other interests which are doing whatever they can to destroy our nation’s industrial base and move it to Asia. I can think of no other explanation for this Party’s enthusiastic support of the rabid environmentalism seen in the reaction to the BP oil spill and legislation like Cap and Trade where American industries would be required to buy indulgences from African nations for the sin of polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, a gas that is the very foundation of all life on Earth as plants combine it with water to create hydrocarbons and release oxygen which we animals breath.

    We are the first nation I know of in the history of humankind to work against our own long term interests and acquire massive debt in doing so. Reality is that we do not control the price of oil, OPEC and the value of the dollar control it and we pay what they demand in our devalued dollars.

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    • AMVoterComment by AMVoter
      March 22, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

      For well over 30 years Democrats have been telling us we shouldn’t drill for oil. If we could have started drilling in a very small portion of ANWR in Alaska when it was first proposed in 1977, we would be using that oil, not OPEC oil.

      Obama is trying to force alternative energy but the fact is the technology isn’t there yet. And that won’t be changed by tearing down and throwing obstacles at the oil industry in this country.

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  17. memawComment by memaw
    March 22, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    We have been doing much drilling on private land, but there are so many restrictions even there. The dunes sage brush lizard statue is threatening even that. What we need besides less restrictions and the pipeline approved, is more refineries. The EPA standards have made is almost impossible to build more and that is one of the big problems.

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  18. AMVoterComment by AMVoter
    March 22, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    ……………

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  19. lowlifeComment by lowlife
    March 22, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    There is no mystery about who to blame. Democrat Congressmen, Senators, Presidents and their appointees, for the last forty years, have impeded the production, refining, distribution and use of energy, particularly oil and coal. Partly through pandering to their deranged enviromentalist supporters and partly through a general lust for power and control, these moron politicians have greatly reduced the availability and increased the price of energy. They are pursuing the same policy today, more enthusiastically than ever, and lying about it.

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  20. begneli2011Comment by begneli2011
    March 23, 2012 @ 3:05 am

    The liberals say that drill baby drill (increase in supply) does not lower the price. Then they ask Saudi Arabia to increase supply to lower the price. And they want to tap in to the strategic reserve to increase the supply so as to lower the price. The liberal brain does not work like ours.

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    • RME KRNLComment by RME KRNL
      March 23, 2012 @ 3:11 am

      “The liberal brain does not work like ours.”

      You went too far with this comment. You should have stopped after the word “work.”

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  21. Doc SmithComment by Doc Smith
    March 23, 2012 @ 4:36 am

    It seems some don’t appreciate my previous comment. Before you make a comment and show just how uninformed you really are. Check both my facts and yours. If the oil companies were not shipping gas and oil overseas the in country supply would overwhelm the capacity to store it at present prices. They would have to drop prices to spark an increase in usage. The oil companies are out for profit. They will do what they must in order to keep the price artificially high to maintain that profit margin.

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  22. Glenn ShannonComment by Glenn Shannon
    March 23, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    We have spent billions on the energy department that Carter started, now you see how much that has helped. The democrats have been against drilling for oil ever since I can remember so enjoy those high gas prices. Am sure if you put Obamas green energy to work you can put a solar collector or a wind mill on your car and zip down the road. The real answer to our problem is switching to natural gas but the government would rather spend the money on wind mills, solar and the energy department.

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  23. colinjohnComment by colinjohn
    March 23, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Keep us confused so “you’ll” be safe. I’ve heard that Oil prices are set by the Global market. Do the Arab nations producing oil have cheap prices? Is that because of the market for their product? If we’re such a producer, where’s our share, our price reduction? Perhaps it doesn’t work like that.

    But when the Oil companies post yet-again record profits, I think I know who to blame. Speaking of “record profits”, does that mean they posted profits hire than any previous quarter or year? Or is that just an expression?

    At some gas stations, if you buy certain products, you get a discount at the pump, sometimes as much as 15 cents/gallon. How is that possible? Are the products we’re buying so over-priced, they subsidize this reduction? Or is Gas so over-priced they can afford it? Or are they betting on so few people going for their “deal” that they lose little or nothing, but gain repeat customers?

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  24. jamessheridanComment by jamessheridan
    March 23, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    Not To Forget…….

    The higher gas prices are and stay up, THE MORE TAX MONEY THE GOVT GETS!

    Let them attempt to deny THAT!

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    • colinjohnComment by colinjohn
      March 23, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

      I thought the amount of taxes were set per gallon regardless of the retail/resle portion?

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