Gasoline prices rising rapidly

ALBANY -- The recent climb of gas prices has many Albany natives scraping their cup holders and searching for extra change in their pockets to make up the difference.

Shirley Causey, 60, said she and her husband, who runs a lawn-care business, had to reluctantly raise their prices for service to combat the price of gasoline.

"(High gas prices) hurts everybody," she said. "We hate to do it (raise prices), but we had to do something."

Vincent Mays, 20, said the spike in gasoline prices comes at the worst of times.

"The economy is still not back where it should be, and now we have this," he said. "I know they raised the minimum wage, but the cost of living went up, so it doesn't really do a lot."

Mays said he hopes that gas prices do not continue to rise because it is already hard enough to afford utilities, groceries and other bills.

"It's too much about politics," he said.

Ann Jowers, 40, said she also felt the rise in prices is politically motivated.

"I think a lot of it is political," she said. "There are a lot of alternatives (to gasoline) out there, and no one wants to implement them."

Vincent Mays, 20, says he doesn't think politics could help in gasoline prices.

"Alternative fuels are not necessarily the answer," he said. "They will probably be as expensive or cost more than regular gas."

Mays said he hopes that the price of gasoline does not continue to climb.

"A lot of (bad) things happened last time it happened," he said. "I think we should just try to get things as cheaply as we can."

Gregg Laskoski, spokesman for the AAA Auto Club South, said the increase in crude oil prices is related to the prices that we are seeing at the pumps.

"(Gas prices) are rising because oil is rising," he said.

Oil prices have surged 25 percent in less than a month, and economists predict the price of gasoline could soon eclipse summer highs.

Benchmark crude for December delivery gave up 45 cents Friday to $80.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil was trading at less than $70 per barrel to start the month.

Laskoski said the decline of the American dollar has also added to the high price of gasoline.

"When the dollar weakens, investors look for a hedge in commodities," he said. "Oil is the largest commodity there is."

The dollar hit an annual low on Friday, and anyone holding a euro could trade it in for more than $1.50.

Laskoski said that because oil is traded internationally in the dollar, as the dollar falls, investors are buying more for less.

"Americans are paying a premium at the pump for all these factors," he said.

A gallon of regular unleaded gas is 9.6 cents more expensive than last month and is closing in on the 2009 high of $2.693 per gallon that was reached on June 21. However, gas prices are still 18.6 cents cheaper than the same time last year.

When asked if gas prices will still climb throughout the fall and winter, Laskoski said that the answer remains a mystery.

"Nobody knows the answer to that," he said. "If the dollar keeps declining, that is not good news."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this article.