New Mexicans feel pain at the pump as prices pass $4 - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexicans feel pain at the pump as prices pass $4

Wilber Rivas fills up his family’s minivan at the Circle K at San Pedro and Central SE Tuesday. “Fifty dollars for half a tank? That’s expensive,” Rivas said. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexicans are feeling the squeeze of increasing gas costs, something that will only intensify as the United States enacts its ban on imports of Russian oil.

“It’s painful; it hurts in every direction,” Laura Rangel said Tuesday afternoon while filling up her car at the Sam’s Club on Renaissance NE in Albuquerque.

Rangel, who works as a construction project manager, said the increase in gas costs has affected every aspect of her life, whether choosing what to buy at the grocery store or making the decision between filling up her car or paying utilities.

The prices have also changed her daily routine. Rangel said she has been opting to shop for groceries on the way home rather than making a separate trip, and last weekend she stayed home to conserve gas.

Rangel paid upwards of $80 to fill her tank Tuesday, up from her normal cost of $60 to $65.

On Tuesday, the country reached its highest price of gas in history, averaging about $4.17 per gallon, The Associated Press reported. In Albuquerque, prices climbed to an average of $4.04 per gallon, according to AAA.

New Mexico political leaders from both sides of the aisle weighed in on the situation Tuesday. State Sens. Greg Baca and David Gallegos, both Republicans, said in a release the Biden administration’s move on Russia oil opens up the opportunity for New Mexico to fill the gap left by the ban.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined five fellow Democratic governors in backing a potential policy that could lower gas prices by urging congressional leaders to suspend the federal gas tax through the end of the year.

Some of the few places selling gas below $4 in Albuquerque on Tuesday, among them Costco and Sam’s Club, were beset by long lines of cars snaking onto the street.

A motorist pumps gas at the Circle K at Unser and Ladera NW on Tuesday, where unleaded gasoline was selling for $4.19 per gallon. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

For some, it was worth it to pay extra at more expensive gas stations rather than wait in line for 20 minutes.

Becky Garrity, who was filling up her car for $4.09 a gallon at the Maverik station on Montgomery and Carlisle NE, said she initially went to Costco, but was turned off by the long lines.

Increasing costs also led some residents on a goose chase trying to find the cheapest gas.

Carlos Vigil, 37, said he spent some 30 to 40 minutes driving around and looking at gas price monitoring apps in an attempt to refill his car before he ultimately settled on Maverik.

“Pretty much every gas station I saw had the exact same price,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where everybody has to deal with it. It’s not like… some people can get a better deal than others.”

The rising costs coincide with President Joe Biden’s announcement of a ban on Russian energy imports. Some Albuquerque residents say they back that move out of support for Ukraine.

Larry Brown said he blames Biden for higher gas prices, but supported the ban.

“They should have done it day one,” said Brown, as he filled up his car at the Maverik station. “When you’re dealing with tyrants, you have to cut them off at the knees.”

Rangel said she agreed with the reasoning of the ban.

“It’s got to be done,” said Rangel. “But, of course, it’s affecting all of us. It’s not just affecting Ukraine. It’s not just affecting Russia.”

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