High gasoline prices have students fed up

Ada Simanduyeva

For University student Laura Jacobi, it now costs more to drive to Rochester, where her boyfriend lives.
With ongoing Congressional investigations, the question remains the same: What caused the gas prices to soar and who is to blame? Gas prices in the Midwest are currently the highest in the country, ranging from $1.79 in Minnesota to $2.00 in Chicago.
“There are so many different pieces of the puzzle that have a hand or have a little bit of a cause in the higher prices, but my first inclination has always been OPEC,” said Dawn Duffy, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association in Minneapolis.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has 11 member countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. OPEC owns about 78 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves and supplies more than 40 percent of world’s oil.
In March 1999, OPEC decided to withhold 4 million barrels a day from their production schedule. The trading price of crude oil was then comparatively low — $10 a barrel.
Last March, OPEC increased the supply, putting a half million barrels a day into the market when the price bounced up to $32 a barrel. Duffy attributed current short supply to these OPEC market maneuvers.
“They do not control all the oil in the world, but as a unified force they certainly have a lot of power,” Duffy said.
Gas prices have been on the decline since last week, amid public uproar and pledges by officials to investigate. At an Amoco gas station on campus prices dropped 20 cents from last week.
“It’s probably gonna keep going down and it has a lot to do with people being fed up with it,” said Anne Marie Rush, an Amoco employee.
Rush said there are complaints from concerned students about the prices, and the number of drive-offs increased 5 to 10 percent. Many gas stations are offering free car washes to people who report those who drive off without paying.
During his recent public appearance, Gov. Jesse Ventura said he does not have the authority to investigate Minnesota’s gas prices, or to suspend the sales tax on gasoline.
“The current upsurge in gasoline prices, and the legislature’s choice to reject my plan and spend one-time money on roads only serves to emphasize the shortsightedness of the legislature’s transportation policy,” Ventura said. He also proposed some alternative transit options in Minnesota.
Ada Simanduyeva covers international perspectives and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3223