- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2007

Pump prices hit a record high nationally this week, forcing drivers to rethink the way they get around.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $3.10 per gallon — 5 cents higher than last week and 3 cents higher than the record price of $3.07 set in September 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics released yesterday.

Virginia Tippie, a commuter from Annapolis, said she’s sick of seeing the gas prices tick up every week.

“I don’t think anyone likes the high gas prices, especially when you have an SUV like mine,”said Mrs. Tippie, patting the steel carriage of her black Chevrolet Suburban.

Mrs. Tippie said she is looking for new ways to get into the city. “I’m trying to take the commuter bus more often,” she said.

Mrs. Tippie said many of her neighbors are taking a bus to get to the District.

Some vacationing families said the high prices are forcing them to cut their summer-driving plans short.

“The high gas prices won’t affect my commuting or short-term trips, but it might deter us from traveling long distances,” said Tony Munoz, a New Jersey native who drove with his family to see the Capitol this week.

Mr. Munoz said he and his family are hoping to travel to Maine later this summer, but their plans might be changed by the high fuel prices.

“We’re not going to make it to Maine this year,” said his wife Susan. “Trust me, I’m the one who does the bills.”

The record-breaking fuel costs are the combined result of refinery disruptions and rising import prices for crude oil.

The disruptions caused by planned and unplanned maintenance shutdowns at U.S. refineries are taking its toll on national inventories. Stocks of gasoline have steadily declined this spring, dropping 13 percent from February, according to the EIA.

Oil prices jumped 6 cents yesterday to close at $62.46 for light sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Rebecca Reid of Annapolis said she thinks that gas prices are going to continue to climb.

“I think that high gas prices are a reality that Americans are going to have to face,” Mrs. Reid said.

The price per gallon of regular gas in the Washington area rose another penny this week to $3.01, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic auto club.

Washington-area taxi drivers seem the most upset about the high prices, complaining that they are having to work extra hours to offset the money they are spending at the pump.

“It’s too high,” said Jonathan Woldegaber, a D.C. taxi driver. “I spend $180 a week on gas, and I have to work two extra hours each day just to break even.”

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