How High Can Gas Go?

With the national average price of a gallon reaching four dollars, we visit Detroit-area gas stations to hear how motorists are coping.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day, I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen in for Alex Chadwick. Coming up, gadgets for gals, consumer electronics companies are gearing more of their products to women.

BRAND: First though, we could be in the worst energy crisis in a generation. Here's one marker - the average cost of gas hit four dollars a gallon this weekend. Celeste Headlee reports from Detroit on the reaction from drivers as they begin their workweek.

HEADLEE: It feels like summer at this gas station in Detroit. The temperature is expected to reach 90 degrees. But that's not what has Robert Huff (ph) steamed up. He's furious about paying 3.99 for a gallon of gas.

Mr. ROBERT HUFF (Gasoline Consumer, Detroit, Michigan): No, it ain't fair. They'e robbing us, they just ain't got the gun out at us. You know and they're taking all our money with all of this.

Ms. KELLY RATZIG (Gasoline Consumer, Detroit, Michigan): No, I think we're being overcharged. It's a dollar more than it was a year ago. What's changed so much that we're paying a dollar more?

HEADLEE: That's Kelly Ratzig (ph). She's an organic gardener by trade and has to drive all over the state hauling fertilizer and tools.

Ms. RATZIG: Spending on average, seriously, of 150 dollars a week in gas is expensive. And it definitely tells us we're not going to do any big vacationing this summer either.

HEADLEE: Gas prices reached an all-time high this weekend after a jump of almost 11 dollars a barrel on Friday. And economists say the average person is paying a much higher percentage of their income on fuel. Andre Easson (ph) says that he's not sure he can afford any further increases.

Mr. ANDRE EASSON (Gas Consumer, Detroit, Michigan): No, I don't it's fair because they're not raising the prices of minimum wages for our jobs, seem like they could raise the prices of the jobs and maybe we could deal with it. But this is rough.

HEADLEE: Everyone we spoke to says gas prices are affecting their day-to-day spending decisions. Kelly Ratzig says she thinks twice before driving across town to see friends.

Ms. RATZIG: My sister wants to go to dinner and she factors in whether or not it is realistic for the price of gas.

HEADLEE: And Robert Huff says he's had to set aside a larger chunk of money to fill his gas tank. And the money has to come from somewhere.

Mr. HUFF: Yeah, I have to go buy cheaper food. I used to shop at Kroger's now I have to shop at Alden's (ph). You know, the prices are cheaper.

HEADLEE: Huff says he believes the government could do something about gas prices and taxpayers need relief.

Mr. HUFF: It's hard to survive. You know, forget making it, it's hard to survive.

HEADLEE: There are some predicting the price of a barrel of oil will hit 150 dollars by the 4th of July weekend and it's a sure bet that Americans like Robert Huff will be looking to the presidential candidates for answers and will expect a solution from the next administration. Celeste Headley, NPR News, Detroit.

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