Gas prices: sky's the limit

gas prices illustration
(photo illustration by A. Siegel)

By Rachel Benoit

Fitchburg residents continue to cope with gas prices averaging $3.49 per gallon, with expectations for the rates to rise again. That’s almost 50 cents per gallon higher than this time last year, according to the American Automobile Association, and it’s an issue that’s especially hard on commuter students.

“The gas prices seem to stay the same or just get higher,” said Marysa Rousseau, who commutes between Fitchburg and Worcester. “I thought that the situation would improve by now, but it hasn’t, and I am sick of spending such a large part of my paycheck to fill up my tank.”
Motorists are becoming very familiar with gas prices hovering closer to the $4 range. According to AAA Southern New England, which is based in Framingham, the current average gas price is 12 cents more per gallon than it was just a month ago.
Geoff St. Onge, a Leominster resident who drives an hour to work, commented, “I hoped that when the economy got better, the gas prices would get lower. At this rate, people soon won’t be able to afford to travel to their jobs.”
 With tensions continuing to run high between the U.S. and Iran, a major oil producer, experts say gas prices will continue to be uncertain. “There is a good chance we will get up to $4 a gallon and it doesn’t have a lot to do with gas, but it has everything to do with crude oil prices and the impact of uncertainty in the Middle East,” said .Andrew Reed, an analyst at the Wakefield-based research and consulting firm Energy Security Analysis Inc. The U.S. relies heavily on foreign oil, with top suppliers including Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, and it imports about 60 percent of its oil from other countries, according to the Consumer Energy Report. The report also declares that nearly 97 percent of transportation vehicles in the U.S. depend on oil products.
While average Americans cannot directly change what is happening overseas, they may be able to find other ways to adjust to high gas prices. By switching to smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles, motorists will be able to save money at the pump. Jim DiMarco of Fitchburg said this tactic worked for him. “I started out with a Ford truck, but then gas prices started being too much,” DiMarco explained. “So, I got a Honda Civic that gets about 27 miles per gallon, and I would recommend everyone make the switch to a more fuel-efficient car. I am saving money, and it is worth it.”
People have found simpler ways to cope, such as carpooling or utilizing public transportation. Crystal Arsenault of Worcester explained, “I have tried to reduce my gas costs by going out less. When I was a teenager, we used to go out for drives just for something to do. Now, I make an effort to conserve gas by only driving for errands, work, or to spend time with family and friends.”
St. Onge added, “I have accepted the prices because there is nothing I can do about it. I need to get to my destination one way or the other, even if the costs continue to go up.” This seems to be the real problem with the rising gas prices; everyone needs gas and there is nothing average Americans can do to make the prices drop.