Gas Prices Spiking Across Country

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

In the hours before Hurricane Ike makes landfall, gas prices have been spiking around the country. However, Virginia could be insulated from this problem.

The last tropical system to make landfall, Hanna, could actually help Virginians out at the pump this time around.

From the south to the north, gas prices are spiking. Concerns over prices and supply have drivers rushing to fill up.

Gas stations in states like North Carolina and Florida are trying to meet demand. Some stations are putting up signs asking drivers to buy as little gas as possible.

"I don't think they should be putting a sign on there like that. If you buy it and you run out, you run out," says a driver in North Carolina.

"Oh, I think it's ridiculous. If I needed more, I would have wanted to have more. And they said you could pump more. They were just asking people to do it voluntarily," says a driver in Florida.

Locally, some gas station managers saw an abnormal number of customers.

Jason Leonard and Don Bennett say when they heard about price spikes across the country, they stopped in Virginia to fuel up during their trip to the Louisiana coast.

"It's just ripping people off plain and simple," says Leonard. "That's all there is to it."

"I heard they were supposed to go up to a dollar a gallon and they had all these people. It was jam-packed, bumper-to-bumper on the interstate," says Bennett.

However, Virginians should be insulated from these record price spikes across the country because of Kaine's state of emergency declaration just before Tropical Storm Hanna blew through the region.

That move kicked in an anti-price gouging statute for 30 days, and Virginia is still in that 30-day window. Still, officials say that hasn't stopped some stations from trying to jack up their prices.

"There have been some reports today. And our office is monitoring the situation to determine whether changes in prices are caused by normal market forces or other market factors that may violate state and federal competition laws," says David Clementson, deputy director of communication for the office of Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Kaine issued a statement about the gas supply Friday.

He says, "We recognize that the storms in the Gulf of Mexico have affected gasoline supplies and prices, but we are asking Virginians not to overreact. We encourage them to refuel their vehicles according to their normal routine."

If you see an instance of price gouging, you're encouraged to report it immediately to the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs. The toll-free phone number is 800-552-9963, though you can also call 804-786-2476.

Friday night, the toll-free number was dealing with a technical problem that prevented callers from leaving voice mails. However, the office worked on the problem to get it fixed. So callers are encouraged to try again.

The office will also be working extra hours this weekend to accommodate callers. It will be open for at least part of the day Saturday.


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