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Second Biggest Jump Ever In Gas Prices

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Gas Prices Monday

The prices Monday, March 7, at the BP gas station at LaSalle Boulevard and Ontario Street. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 03/07/11 11:20 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Gas prices have soared 33 cents per gallon in the last two weeks alone – the second biggest jump ever recorded.

As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, as of Monday morning at the BP gas station at LaSalle Boulevard and Ontario Street, a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.99, while a gallon of premium was up to $4.24.

The 33 cent spike is second only to a 38 cent jump just after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, according the Lundberg group. The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded in Chicago is now $3.75, according to chicagogasprices.com.

Even people who don’t typically pay close attention to gas prices are noticing now, and the question is what we are to do about it.

“It’s too high,” motorist Sherita Brown said. “That’s crazy, but what are you going to do? You just have to purchase it.”

“This is life,” added motorist Nino Mohammed, “I mean, it’s 2011 and we’ve got to manage around it and make it happen.”

A new Lundberg survey shows that across the country the average price of regular has hit $3.51 per gallon, with oil selling for more than $105 a barrel. The prices are killing some local businesses.

“I used to make it three, four days with $75 of gas,” said limousine river Antonio Stubb. “Now every two days, I’ve got to put $75 in this car, so it’s ridiculous.”

Still, a visitor from Canada reminds us it could always be worse.

“To fill up the tank there would be $65. Here it’s about $45,” said Troy Lomond. “So for me, it’s saving money down here if you want a different perspective on it.”


LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesigner Reports

Still, the current price spike is hearkening some memories of the summer of 2008.

Oil prices were driven well above $100 per barrel, and in June of that year and gas prices were well over $4 a gallon. At the time, the U.S. Department of Energy said they expected prices to stay there for a year to come.

The crushing financial crisis later that year drove oil and gas prices down. But now, the sticker shock is back.

The reasons for the spike in oil and gas prices are different than in 2008. Back then, the cause wasn’t quite as obvious – it was blamed variously on high demand for oil in countries such as India and China, speculators on the futures market, and even “peak oil,” the theory that oil production had gone into a terminal decline and scarcity would keep prices going up forever.

But this time around, the rising prices are the clear result of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa — the threat of a civil war in Libya in particular — and the resulting jitters in the global oil market.

The situation has the White House considering all options, and that includes tapping into the country’s emergency oil reserve.

“All matters have to be on the table, when you see the difficulty coming out of this economic crisis we’re in and the fragility of it,” White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend.

Also, Republicans are calling for more offshore drilling – possibly in Alaska – to find another source of fuel.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) favors more offshore drilling, and opposes tapping into the U.S. oil reserves, saying that should be done only in a national emergency.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5th) says using oil reserves would only be a short-term solution, and said the United States needs to take steps to reduce reliance on oil from the Middle East–beyond just drilling for more oil domestically.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Craig Dellimore Reports

The federal government did not tap into its emergency oil reserves during the 2008 oil crisis. The last time was during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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