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Filling up costly

Pump prices edge close to $3 a gallon

Pump prices edge close to $3 a gallon

April 13, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

TRI-STATE

The gas pump read $36 and Al Mumma's tank wasn't even full.

"I think it's terrible, the same thing everybody else thinks," Mumma said Wednesday as he filled up his pickup truck at Martin's off Wesel Boulevard in Halfway.

Mumma uses the truck for deliveries and has to fill up at least twice a week. He said that was nothing compared to how often he had to refill his diesel delivery truck, which he said swallows 84 gallons a day.

Mumma, who lives in Hagerstown, is among a long list of complainers when it comes to the high cost of gas. The average price of regular unleaded gas in Hagerstown was $2.72 a gallon Monday, according to AAA. This time last year, it cost $2.26 a gallon.

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Unfortunately, there's more bad news at the pump. Government analysts predict gas prices won't be coming down anytime soon.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday presented a fuel forecast report that calls for a further surge in gas prices this summer, throughout peak driving season.

According to the report, regular unleaded gas will average $2.62, 25 cents more than last summer.

The report points to world oil market conditions, growth in U.S. demand and new fuel requirements as contributors to the higher gas prices.

Areas in Maryland and Virginia will probably see prices closer to $3 a gallon in the next 30 days, due to new reformulated gas requirements, said Tom Kloza, spokesman for the Oil Price Information Service, a Rockville, Md., company that tracks pump prices.

Kloza said prices should ease by 10 to 25 cents in mid-May through early June, but only if there aren't any major tropical storms.

"I see prices for the entire country dropping drastically in the last 100 days of 2006," Kloza said.

But until those days arrive, the high prices might mean having to say bye-bye to the summer vacation Debbie McPherson had been hoping for.

"I'm a stressed-out teacher," said McPherson, who lives and works in Hagerstown. "I'm sort of worried. If they keep going up, I might not be able to go away this summer."

McPherson spent $39 on regular gas at the Citgo off Dual Highway, where the cheapest gas was $2.75 a gallon.

"I'm glad I don't have one of those SUVs," McPherson said. "I'm glad I live close to my school."

While the rising gas prices have been a pain in the wallet for Pamela Kline, a mother of two, it wasn't enough to keep the Kline family from planning a summer vacation to North Carolina.

"We're driving to the Outer Banks," Kline said, as she filled up the family car Wednesday at the Martin's station on Wesel Boulevard.

According to AAA, the average person drives 29 miles a day. AAA spokeswoman Amanda Knittle said the jump in gas prices was "beyond explanation."

"Who's profiting from these high gas prices?" Knittle asked. "It's not even summer driving season. The reasons aren't really satisfactory when you're the one shelling out money for gas."

"At what point do you say 'enough?'" Knittle asked.

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