News Specialist Jed Boal reportingAmerican consumers are getting squeezed at the gas pumps as prices hover at record levels.
In fact, the average price for a gallon of gas here in Utah is the highest ever. And it could still climb.
We've been through this before, but never quite this bad.
Heather Sterrett/Motorist: "IT'S RIDICULOUS. FOR ONE GALLON, IT'S TWO BUCKS ALMOST...IN OUR TRUCK IT'S TEN MILES."
Heather Sterrett and her boyfriend are homeless, sleeping in the car. They can't run the car at night to stay warm because they can't afford the gas.
Heather Sterrett/Motorist: "BASICALLY WE HAVE NO MONEY, ALL OUR MONEY GOES TO GAS."
While it's not that dire for everyone,we're all paying the price.
What's to blame?
Market fears of a war with Iraq, a disruption in Venezuelan oil exports from a workers' strike, and a high demand for petroleum products.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Utah is $1.68, up 56-cents from a year ago. Nationally, the numbers are about the same. However, in California today, they're paying more than $2.00 a gallon.
Nicole Leisinger is from Maryland and admits we're actually lucky here. The prices are worse on the east coast.
Nicole Leisinger/Motorist: "SOMETIMES TEN CENTS MORE...YEAH, IT'S PRETTY EXPENSIVE...KINDA HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT."
While the gas prices today have Americans worried, some industry analysts say, it won't last. Barring an extended war with Iraq, those analysts believe the price could drop back down to around a buck-forty by July.
Susan Horstman/Motorist: "EVENTUALLY THEY WILL. THEY WENT HIGH WHEN THEY DID DESERT STORM, THEN THEY WENT LOW AFTER THAT TOO. IT'S JUST WITH THE MARKET BEING SHAKEY, EVERYBODY TAKES A SCARE AND THE PRICES GO UP."
The Energy Department expects pump prices will go even higher, and could affect Americans' eagerness to travel this summer.