Pressed at the pump: Gas prices soar

February 18, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

At some local gas stations, prices have risen three times in the past week, from about $1.75 per regular gallon to $1.95 a gallon yesterday.

Diesel gas has also gone up — by about 15 cents in the past week, from $1.65 to $1.79 at Flyers in Sonora.

Some gas station owners raise prices when they get their bills from the most recent fuel deliveries, while others increase prices in anticipation of higher costs.

Mike Nash, the manager of Nash Chevron in Angels Camp, said rising costs are based on what his station is charged for each delivery.

"When we get our fuel, we look at the invoice and if the price goes up, we raise the price," Nash said. "It has gone up every time we've ordered and got a delivery in the last month."

Prices are as high as $1.98 per regular gallon and more than $2 for per gallon for premium in some places, and gas station managers and cashiers expect that number to climb.

"In six days, (prices) have gone up three times," said Yonna Lamb, cashier at Sonora Mini Mart on Tuolumne Road.

One customer who was filling her truck's tank yesterday said that when she drove by Gold Country Gas in Sonora just one hour earlier, prices were cheaper by 10 cents.

But why are prices going up with no ceiling in sight?

Some think it is the oil crisis in Venezuela, others attribute the rise to the possible war in Iraq.

Joanie Long, manager of Wayne's Mini-Mart in Tuolumne, attributes the ballooning prices to capitalism at its worst.

"Different people who come in here who are working in the industry say we have so much gas stockpiled, they don't even know why our gas has been going up so much," she said. "Honestly, I think it's greediness."

Long doesn't see any relief in the future.

In fact, she expects prices to go even higher.

"We knew it was coming, and we've been trying to warn our customers," she said.

The higher gas prices could begin to take a toll on everything from car sales to pizza deliveries.