Chicago tops list of priciest gas

May 19, 2008 4:55:14 PM PDT
Chicago has the highest average gasoline price in the country, at $4.07 a gallon for regular, according to the latest Lundberg Survey.

The news comes ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, a popular time of year for family road trips--but maybe not with these high gas prices.

Chicago is now one of only two metropolitan areas in the country where the average price of regular unleaded is more than $4 a gallon. The other metropolitan area is Long Island, New York.

At the BP station at Roosevelt and Wabash in the South Loop, where a gallon of regular unleaded is $4.25, motorists will spend $50 or $60 to fill up a small sedan, much more for trucks and SUVs.

Gas prices continue to go up but Chicago motorists say they're used to it.

"It doesn't surprise me, it's a big market, and traditionally our gas is pretty high in Chicago, so it doesn't surprise me at all," said Bill Stratton, motorist.

"It's a large metropolitan area, so we're going to have high prices.. Fortunately we can get around good, we can ride our bikes or walk," said Cory Andresen, motorist.

For many who don't have the option of biking or walking it's time to start thinking about ways to cut back on other things.

"I would have to say leisure activities, eating out. I would stop going to different restaurants, some of the frivolous money, you go spend out in stores, stuff like that. Maybe cut back on that to save more money," said Chaketta Myles, motorist.

According to the new data from the Lundberg Survey, nationally, the average price for regular unleaded is $3.79. That's up about 17 cents in the last two weeks. In Chicago, the average price is $4.07 a gallon.

These kinds of prices have commuters rethinking the type of vehicles they use to get around. More commuters are riding scooters, which can get 60-70 miles per gallon. Scooter owner Ken Colrich says it costs less than $5 to fill up his bike's gas tank.

So why does gas cost so much in Chicago? One reason is taxes. The state and city takes a big cut every time someone fills up. Even before the taxes, the gas costs more.

"It's required by lawmakers that Chicago has a cleaner burning fuel year round," said Beth Mosher, AAA spokesperson. "That's part of the reason that our prices here in Chicago are more than they are across the United States."

It's pricey now, and there is a good chance gas will cost even more as the summer goes on.

"It's really hard to tell. What happens this coming weekend with the Memorial Day travel and how many people actually travel, that will be very telling for how the rest of the summer is going to go," said Mosher.

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission says that agency will be doing more to monitor some of these gas prices.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin held a news conference in the South Loop Monday morning to talk more about the federal government's response to soaring gas prices.

"What's missing in Washington is a cop on the beat. There should be someone there taking a close look at what's happening to consumers across this country. The bottom line is we have to stop the price gouging that's going on. We have to make sure the oil companies are held accountable," Durbin said.

Durbin's critics say his vote against the expansion of domestic crude oil by drilling domestically is partly to blame for high prices.

"If we were drilling in Alaska eight years ago, we could have an additional two to two-and-a-half million barrels of oil on the market today at our fingertips," said Phil Flynn, Alaron Futures & Options.

"We cannot drill our way out of this problem," said Durbin. "And frankly, the notion that we are so desperate to go drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge four oil that we may be able to extract five years from now is an act of desperation."

In San Francisco, the average price for regular unleaded is $3.98, in Washington, D.C., it's $3.82, and Minneapolis drivers are paying an average of $3.71.


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