Cancel those vacation plans, fill up a little at a time, and cut back on general spending.
Those are the measures being taken by a several Northwest residents to combat soaring gas prices. In the past month alone, Tucson’s gas prices have climbed an average of 32 cents per gallon, up to $3.67 per gallon from $3.34 in February.
Local gas prices are the highest they have been since the recession hit in the summer of 2008, when Tucsonans were paying an average of $3.83 per gallon. Despite that fact, residents are still paying less per gallon than the national average of $3.71.
Still, the increased costs are having diverse effects.
Marana resident Jeremiah York said he only puts about $20 at a time into the tank of his Chevy Trailblazer in an effort to balance his spending. As a pastor at New Life Bible Fellowship Church, York’s services are often required in various parts of town.
“I drive around a lot to visit people in the hospital or to do home visits, and that’s where I use a lot of my gas,” he said.
Oro Valley resident Robin Shipley and her husband no longer drive their new 2011 Toyota truck to and from Phoenix, as it has become too costly. The couple has reverted to driving their older Toyota Corolla because it gets better gas mileage. Shipley said the impact of gas prices is particularly harsh for young people.
“I feel bad for them,” she said. “They go to work, and all their money goes to gas.”
By limiting driving to and from work, most residents are decreasing recreational trips.
Oro Valley resident Rick Davis rarely goes to Lake Roosevelt anymore, as the trip now costs him about $120 in gas one-way.
“I love to fish,” he said. “I have a boat, and it’s been out once this year, and probably won’t be get out again until prices go down.”
There was a general consensus amongst Northwest residents that domestic drilling and energy exploration should be further implemented, something Republicans have continually criticized President Barrack Obama for neglecting to do.
“We need to be self-sufficient,” said Marana resident Alan Ruch. “Everybody says it’s an election year, so prices will drop, but the bad thing about it is it’s the middle class that pays for it. You’ve got to find a way to work overtime or cut things in the household.”
York said he is unsure who he will vote for in the upcoming election, but isn’t convinced any particular candidate will have the answer to such a complicated issue.
Several residents said gas prices could affect their vote in the November presidential election.
“It’s capitalism, but where do you draw the line?” asked Davis. “If Obama expects to stay in office, we’re going to have to see some results.”
As with many of the residents interviewed, Shipley said she is an advocate for domestic energy exploration.
“Do I think we should drill more? Yes I do,” she said. “I think we have plenty of resources, and I don’t understand why we’re not.”
Davis said he believes America should start relying more on electricity for energy, but emphasized electric energy is not as environmentally friendly as is often perceived.
“The problem is that most of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, so when they talk about clean energy, yes it’s clean coming out of your socket in the wall, but somewhere it’s dirty. There’s smoke blowing in the air to make that,” he said.
Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski said gas prices are largely influenced by the ongoing uncertainty in the Middle East, which could be exacerbated if Israel follows through with its talks to launch a military attack against Iran.
Laskoski recently spoke with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who believes the attack will likely take place before June.
“Four years ago, the U.S. recorded its highest gas prices in July of 2008, when the average price per gallon was $4.12, and crude was $147 per barrel,” he said. “If this attack occurs, oil could go to $200 a barrel.”
According to Laskoski, the spike in crude oil prices would equate to an additional $2.50 per gallon in the United States, with every $10 increase in crude oil translating to 25 cents per gallon at the pumps.
Laskoski said he does not expect gas prices to drop before the presidential election, and advised people take extra precautions to help improve gas mileage, such as checking tire pressure, aligning a vehicle’s tires, emptying excess luggage, and replacing a vehicle’s air filter.
Will current gas prices affect your vote in the upcoming Presidential election?
Definitely. For him (Obama) to earn my vote, the economy is going to have to turn around. Not 100 percent, but at least see some signs. All of this hurts the economy. If you’re putting $100 more in your tank, that’s $100 less you can spend on keeping the local economy going.
Probably. I’m going to do a lot of research. Hopefully the politicians will promise something and follow through with it. I’m still undecided. Trying to wait until it gets closer to the election date.
I am concerned about our economy and that’s it. I’m not concerned about social issues. If Obama could fix our economy, I would vote for him. Our economy needs to be addressed or we are in serious trouble, and that is gas, jobs, and everything else. This will be a very interesting election to watch.
It’s certainly one of the things I consider. I don’t know if any of them have the answer though. It’s not like I think one candidate has something the other one doesn’t. I’m not even really sure if I understand entirely why gas prices are the way they are. It’s something I’ve tried to wrap my head around, but it hasn’t happened.