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No end in sight yet to rising US gas prices

/ 10:02 PM March 03, 2012

The 35 mile per gallon by 2020 mandate became law in 2007. While some cars now list more than 40 mpg both in city and highway driving, fuel efficiency has not caught up with rising gas prices.
Nowhere else is the pinch felt more than in California, where motorists have to contend with the highest gas taxes and ever increasing refining costs in all of the U.S. Many Californians pray that the summer won’t usher in the $5 a gallon tag price, even as pump prices have increased daily by as much as 4 cents a gallon in the last three weeks.

Andy Ramones in San Jose says he has no doubt that prayer can lower gas prices because “when strangers at the gas station ask me for help, I ask to look at their fuel gauge. When it’s empty, I help them out,” adding that “God will grant lower prices to those who don’t drive Humvees and V8s.”

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Ramona Braza in Sacramento takes to heart the local issue of fracking. Not the expletive, it refers to the process of accelerating the extraction of fossil fuels by injecting highly pressurized fracking fluids to create new channels in the rock. Ground water contamination, air pollution, gas leaks and potential rise in cancer stopped fracking from becoming a standard procedure and made it an environmental concern. The news is the California government can’t account for fracking incidents in the state. Braza says, “Faith can move mountains” but this isn’t the way.

From a more practical view, Nelia De Leon from Anaheim says, “I believe in the power of prayer but oil has always been a political issue. It’s not even economics or even about the law of supply and demand but rather a take it or leave it thing. For me, the way to bring down gasoline prices is to stop using motor vehicles altogether. Stop driving.”

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Emmanuel Luzurriaga from Bakersfield asks. “Why can’t the Obama administration just release fuel reserves as was done sometime back? That brought pump prices down by as much as 30 to 40 cents per gallon.”

On the other hand, Maricar Padilla from Laurel, MD says, “I’m not too worried about rising gasoline prices because I use public transportation most of the time. I leave my car at park-and-ride. But my concern is the rising costs of food, groceries and basic commodities. Surely, there has to be a ripple effect. Worse than that, prices that go up don’t come down anymore. Fuel prices fluctuate because of market forces, politics, etcetera. But with household products, they stay up and even go higher.”

George Romero from Portland, OR has a plan. “We need to go back to basics. Plan every driving trip. Use public transportation if available. Arrange with your employer if working from home once or twice a week is viable. And, I think ‘staycations’ are really here to stay. Especially when the forecast says the price of gasoline will hit $5 a gallon this summer. If you have to fly – because the increase in the price of aviation fuel will be passed on to the flying public by the airlines – take pains in really searching for bargains on the internet. But beware of the fine print and scams.”

And obviously from Cris Enriquez in Vallejo, “Now is not the time to be driving SUVs or V8s. Invest in a four-banger. If you want to use it in a car pool, try to take regular passengers going to the city and see if they might be willing to chip in for gas. If you can collect $30 every week from three regular passengers, that’s a lot of help.”

Gas-saving tips and advice like regular oil changes and maintenance, watching out for your tires, not burdening your car with unnecessary weights like unused baby car seats or equipment in the trunk are all repeated on-line and in publications.

But nowadays, there exists technology that can be of some help in saving fuel cost. These are not the aftermarket gadgets that mostly fail in consumer tests. Most of these devices have been with us for a while.

Before you take to the highway, search the information highway. The experts will always tell you gas usually costs more at the stations along the highway. Search for those cheaper inner city gas stations via the internet before you drive out.

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Many Consumer Watch experts will tell you to go shopping for everything all at once to save on trips. All you have to do is order, again via internet, so you don’t even have to personally spend on gas.

You can save on fuel cost if you use your Cruise Control methodically. Most motorists never bother to use their Cruise Control, especially if they never take their vehicle for long drives out of state. But when you use Cruise Control you are driving at a constant speed on level ground, you don’t abruptly accelerate or stop and use more gas.

Your GPS can also be a fuel saving device if you opt to change your setting to the shortest distance instead of the fastest time to reach your destination. In most GPS menu, you can also avoid cities and towns which will make you go through a lot of traffic lights.

The digital read-out from an electronic tire gauge eliminates the guess work reading from an old gauge. This saves you time and ensure your tire pressure is on the level with your car manufacturer’s prescribed PSI.
Lastly, your iPhone or some smart phones will tell you what the weather will be like going to and at your destination. Preparing for the weather helps you plan your driving speed because keeping to a constant speed saves gas. But to control the weather, you’ll still need prayer.

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