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Record Local, N.M. and U.S. Gasoline Prices Cause Pocketbook Pain at the Pump

Journal Staff and Wire Reports
    Pump prices continued to pound our pocketbooks this week.
    Gasoline prices set records nationally, in New Mexico and in Albuquerque for five straight days this week, AAA New Mexico reported Friday.
    The triple whammy happened twice this year, in July and in March.
    Santa Fe also set a record at $2.54 a gallon as did Las Cruces at $2.38 a gallon.
    The soaring prices have more and more people feeling the financial pinch, according to a national Associated Press-AOL poll released Friday.
    Some motorists in Albuquerque reported seeing prices that had gone up about a dime this week jump another 10 cents between Thursday and Friday.
    "It's atrocious," said Roy Rich, a salesman for Carlson Heating and Air Conditioning in Albuquerque.
    Rich spent $33 to fill his company Nissan pickup at the Corner Store station at Osuna and Jefferson where a gallon of regular cost $2.57 Friday afternoon.
    At a Chevron station across the street, Tucson resident David Grove paid $54.90 to fill his BMW 740i with premium, priced at $2.79 per gallon. That was 15 cents a gallon more than he paid in Tucson on Thursday.
    "Boy, you New Mexicans sure charge a lot," Grove cracked.
    Average prices jumped every day, Monday through Friday this week, according to AAA New Mexico's Weekend Gas Watch, which measured the prices at 3 a.m. Friday.
    New Mexico's average price hit $2.45, up 10 cents from a week ago. Nationally, the average price rose 12 cents a gallon to reach $2.41. In Albuquerque the average price hit $2.44, that's 12 cents higher than a week ago.
    Nationally, 64 percent of 1,000 adults who answered the AP-AOL poll conducted Aug. 9-11 said they believed high gasoline prices would soon cause them financial hardships.
    Higher prices at the pump are a direct result of the skyrocketing price of crude oil. Prices reached a record of $66.86 per barrel Friday. That's nearly 50 percent higher than a year ago.
    And they're likely to go higher.
    Wholesalers who expect hurricane season to disrupt supplies from refineries that ring the Gulf of Mexico, are buying extra stocks, putting additional pressure on crude prices, said AAA New Mexico spokeswoman Jeannie Chavez.
    The national survey found those most likely to be worried are people with low incomes, the unemployed and minorities. However, the level of concern was rising fastest among women, retirees, married people and those living in the suburbs.
    "If it gets any higher, I won't be able to drive," said Lois Zumm, a semiretired library worker from Fox Lake, Wis. "I live off my Social Security mostly. And I've got to save something for winter because the heating costs are going to be out of this world."
    Only about a third in the poll said they think President Bush is handling the nation's energy problems effectively; almost six in 10 disagree. When asked whom they blame most for the rise in gasoline prices, people were most inclined to blame the oil companies, followed closely by politicians and countries that produce oil.
    "I think they're all in cahoots," said Anna Marie Richard of Granada Hills, Calif.
    The AP-AOL News poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Aug. 9-11 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.