- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

More than three times as many consumers are concerned about high energy prices than other economic problems such as job losses, foreclosures and the sagging stock market, according to an informal poll of Washington Times readers.

Sixty-five percent of the 230 readers who had voted by 4 p.m. yesterday said their biggest worry is high gas prices and heating bills — outdistancing concerns about the stock market, which were cited by 20 percent of readers polled, and foreclosures, which were cited by 6 percent.

The results mirror other recent surveys showing that, despite record home foreclosures, a looming recession and the biggest credit crunch in 20 years, most Americans remain fixated on the high cost of gasoline and blame that for the economy’s troubles.

“Foreclosures are important, however the price of fuel can drag us down,” said John Turkal, a reader from Ohio, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Mr. Turkal is also concerned that the government is not spending enough money to maintain the roads and bridges that motorists need.

Harry Temple III, a Colorado reader, noted that the high cost of gas is contributing to price increases in a broad array of goods that must be transported to U.S. markets. “Many do not understand that the average item on the grocery store shelf travels 1,400 miles before it gets there. The rising cost of fuel is passed on to the consumer,” he said.

Readers who responded to the poll were overwhelmingly in favor of increased drilling off U.S. coasts and in the Arctic to secure the oil and gas needed to bring down prices. They maintained that Congress’ failure to allow investment in new energy resources is the reason gas prices have soared.

“By allowing a small minority of environmental wackos to control our energy policy, we are getting what we deserve,” said reader Dan Werenko.

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