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Poll: Most readers 'very concerned' about rising gasoline prices

Rochester Business Journal
February 24, 2012

The vast majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll voiced concern about the impact of rising gasoline prices on their business—and more than half say they are very concerned.

The price of gasoline nationwide has reached a record high for this time of the year, AP reports. At $3.58 a gallon for regular unleaded, the average is up more than 25 cents since Jan. 1.

In Rochester, the average price per gallon was $3.81 Wednesday, up some 35 cents since the beginning of the year and 45 cents from a year ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Gasoline prices locally peaked at $4.25 a gallon in July 2008, AAA reports, and many experts think prices could reach new highs this spring. In some places, consumers already are seeing prices over $4 a gallon.

Tensions with oil producer Iran, an unusually cold winter in Europe and increasing demand from developing nations are all driving up gasoline prices, experts say.

By 59 percent to 41 percent, readers say the government should let market forces work rather than intervene to rein in prices.

Roughly 700 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Feb. 20 and 21. The results are similar to those of a Snap Poll conducted 10 months ago, when average gasoline prices in New York topped $4 a gallon.

How concerned are you about the impact of rising gasoline prices on your business?
Very concerned: 62%
Somewhat concerned: 28%
Not very concerned: 8%
Not at all concerned: 2%

Should government act to rein in gasoline prices, or should market forces be allowed to work?
Market forces should be allowed to work: 59%
Government should act to rein in gasoline prices: 41%

Here are some comments from readers:

The government should not stand in the way of the U.S. making use of available resources. The Keystone Pipeline is a good example.
—Joe Cameron

Market forces don’t seem to be working. Lots of demand, but also lots of supply.
—Ed McDonnell

During previous administrations, the United States lobbied OPEC to increase production, thereby lowering prices. We don't seem to do that anymore.
—Rob Taylor, the Marlin Group

The only thing our government should be doing is removing all roadblocks to pursuing oil and gas in our own country, as well as permitting the pipeline from Canada.
—David Wagner

The government needs to stay out of our business unless it plans to shrink by 25 percent or more of what it is. Then we might be able to afford fluctuations in gas prices.
—Pierre Heroux

Government should act to rein in gas prices by ceasing to devalue the U.S. dollar. Devaluation of the dollar is the primary force behind oil price increases. Devaluation of the U.S. dollar has been accomplished by the Obama administration through massive and unsustainable federal spending, funded with borrowing. There is nowhere to borrow the vast amounts of money these Democrats are spending, so the Federal Reserve simply prints more money, then “loans” it to the federal government. It was a neat trick while it lasted, but now oil (and other commodity exporters) have caught on. Now the price of everything imported will begin to go up and up. We are going to be in big trouble if we don’t send some grownups to Washington this November to slam on the brakes.
—George Thomas, Ogden

The real question of longstanding duration is why are Western New York prices always significantly higher than downstate and other New York areas? Gas prices affect truckers and people who drive for a living the most, like service and sales personnel. Cars keep getting more gasoline-efficient with hybrids and smaller vehicles in general to help offset the higher prices. Government needs to keep hands off. High New York State taxes impact the price significantly.
—Bill Cox, Marktec Products Inc.

We should be thankful we don't pay what Europeans pay!
—Hal Gaffin, Honeoye Falls

Respond to the “market forces” by getting oil and gas from the multiple untapped sources in our own country—off the coastlines (China, Cuba and South American countries are), in Alaska and many points in the continental U.S.A. We have the technology to do it safely and enhance the environment. Build more refineries. A side benefit is we create jobs that allow our citizens to realize the American dream, support themselves and their families like the rich so-called democratic politicians (who become multimillionaires while in office, get to participate in insider trading and live by a different set of rules than the rest of Americans). Since the end of WWII Congress has for the most part been controlled by these so called democratic politicians and with their greed and personal socialist agendas (as opposed to the agenda of the American people and the true democratic republic ideas our country was founded and built on) they have over time brought our great country to its current state of ruin. It is past time to stand and act to bring about a true democratic republic... "form of government that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" that our country does not become a socialist state desired by the deceptive few who enjoy and abuse tremendous wealth and power at the expense of all Americans.
—Randy Regan

Drill, drill, drill, drill and drill some more. Are we so stupid that we can't understand this simple concept? We have lost all common sense as a nation.
—Jim Piampiano

The government has already acted—and raised prices due to an ineffective energy policy. The last gas rise broke the back of many, bleeding them dry. There is nothing left in the tank for more irresponsible policies.
—D. Hayes

Am very concerned about rising U.S. gasoline prices. However, the oil industry is a business in our free market economy. I believe the market's demand and supply should determine the price.  The government should stay out of this, for once. U.S. oil demand was down in 2011.  Several of the 150 U.S. oil refineries are currently “down” for maintenance, gearing up for the expensive gasoline of summer driving. One refinery is burning up in the Washington state. The U.S. exports gasoline to Asian and South American customers. China and India are demanding more oil. Iran is being belligerent again. U.S. supplies will subside and the future is uncertain. Prices are now reflecting this. Americans need to get smart, get efficient, and conserve on fuel consumption. The oil industry is chiefly concerned with profit and that is what they only understand. When the profit margin is affected or threatened, then supplies might increase and prices come down or stabilize.
—John Brunette, Webster

The higher the gas price, the more money government makes via various tax revenues. So where's the incentive for government to do anything but watch? There isn't one. Who is advocating for the consumer, especially the person on a fixed income? Same answer, there isn't one.
—Rich Mileo

If we really want alternate fuels, then the government needs to let market forces drive up the price until wind, electric or nuclear is cheaper. Oh wait, electric from nuclear is cheaper, but nuclear is bad. So, we need to let market forces drive up prices until wind and electric from coal is cheaper...err, coal is a dirty fuel and a dirty word. We need to let market forces drive up oil so that wind is cheaper and we all can convert to gas which is plentiful and oh no, we don't want fracking. Okay, what we want is government to save us from the high cost of gas until we can absorb the high cost of wind. We certainly have enough hot air, it comes out of the government.
—Bill Lanigan

I have been retired for twelve years and own a 2004 Toyota Prius that has 22,250 miles. (I purchased it new.) Therefore, I am not currently concerned with a gasoline price increase.
—Nancy Shairer

Simple and few words! Keep government out of the free market. Also, allow the privately financed Keystone pipeline to proceed. Also, approve ANWAR and expand offshore leases and exploration. Domestic activity should serve as a long term brake on oil prices, and stop all the dollars from going outside. Government interference has helped put us in the current predicament.
—Dennis Kiriazides, retired

Hello, the government doesn't care if the gas prices go up. Duh, if the prices go up so do the tax revenue. They only will care is if the economy collapses. Which it will, because John Q Public will halt all spending, prices for transported good will skyrocket, and the fake economy will crumble like a house of cards. As usual the media didn't talk about it, but the leading USA exported item this past year was (you guessed it) petroleum products, i.e.: crude, gasoline, diesel, oil-based lubricants. Then to top it off the big Doofus in the White House cancels an oil pipeline from our good neighbor and ally Canada only to piss them off. And where is all that oil going you ask, China, India, Japan etc. Anywhere but here. We are doomed with these dipsticks in Washington.
—Jim Duke, Victor

The whole process is screwed up, prices rise on speculation of oil prices 3 months from now, that’s ridiculous. The government won’t do anything because the higher the gas prices the more percentage of taxes they bring in.
—Dan Zarpentine

Is the market rigged? As the “futures” markets drive up the cost at the pump, just where does all the additional profit go? The gas we buy today certainly didn't cost what the “futures” markets are making us pay for it.
—Art Maurer, Penfield

It seems the powers that be allow us to get over the high gas prices and settle into the next price gouge knowing it may take awhile but we'll adapt. Then, just when our budgets have adjusted they kick it into high gear again pushing us to the brink once again. The real kicker is when we hear about the profits the gasoline manufacturers are gaining. We hear about gasoline such great amounts we don't need to even concern ourselves with OPEC and what's happening in the Middle East...and we wonder...who is really in charge? In the meanwhile, its' the low and middle income families who have to cut back and sacrifice to figure out just how we can make ends meet. Government should intervene by using our own country's natural resources to help our fellow Americans.
—Roberta Favitta, the Cooley Group Inc.

The market should be allowed to work up to a point, then the government should intervene.
—P.A. Embury

Your two answers that either government rein in prices or the free market be allowed to work are too simplified and can't address the problem. The issues of gas prices are many, but speculation and a devalued dollar are the main reasons why gas prices are rising. The US #1 export is petroleum based products including gasoline, so to say "drill, baby, drill" will solve this issue is juvenile. Government needs to control excess speculation by levying a tax on speculative trading, and it must prosecute market manipulation trading. Market forces should be allowed to work, but not in a privatize the profits, socialize the risk, casino-like, non-regulated atmosphere. Oil and gas prices will rise and possibly lead to another 2008 moment when prices skyrocketed before the country went into recession. The country has not learned its lesson from the last gas price explosion and the Wall Street/government agency revolving door has limited any prosecution of wrong doing these past four years. You get the crony government you elect. Bottom line: If the stock market rises, it means the dollar is being devalued and oil/gas prices will rise. It's that simple and it has nothing to do with government or drilling.
—Michael Thornton, Rochester

Despite always being in favor of free markets and capitalism, the government should step in and ease regulations on domestic exploration/drilling. Drill Baby Drill!
—Joe Dattilo

It concerns me that suppliers have figured how to manipulate the distribution channels to their (price) advantage. I have got to think there is some antitrust activity going undetected by regulators.
—D. A. Kennedy

What, exactly, would government do to rein in prices? One thing we should do is stop giving subsidies to oil companies -- unfortunately in order to make up their lost profits, which always seem to be "record profits" when gas prices rise - the oil companies would likely raise prices even higher. Let's face it, we have no control over energy prices, the oil companies can gouge as much as they want and those who are truly hurt are those in the lower income groups.
—Faye Casey, retired

Seeing the phrase "government should act" makes my eyes red.
—Vinny Dallo, Chili

What government should do (what they should have done 3 years ago) is to 1. Quickly start issuing new permits and areas for offshore drilling 2. Open up ANWAR for drilling 3. Approve the Keystone pipeline. From a pure psychological basis and eventual physical supply basis, prices would start dropping immediately. Market forces will start to work. Look at how the price of natural gas has dropped over the past few years after hydrofracking came on stream.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

Of course I am concerned with the impact of rising gasoline prices. On many levels. The impact to my family personally with regard to our budget and "spendable income". The impact to my business because of the cost of transport. The impact to the local, state and federal economies which will affect our day to day lifestyle. The most important aspect of this whole situation is the root cause of this price escalation. It is convenient and agenda promoting to blame "Big Oil", OPEC, China, the Taliban, the Middle East problem and a host of other scapegoats. We only have to look as far as our government. "Big Oil" makes 1 to 7 cents profit per gallon of gasoline (depending on the information source), while NYS makes 40+ cents a gallon in taxes (and doesn't do a thing to procure, produce, transport, or distribute a single gallon). The government graciously "allows" the oil companies to exist and then demonizes them for making profit. Get the government out of the oil business. Aren't we taxed enough? When I think of the Middle East, and OPEC, I think of how many billions of dollars we've spent teaching, training, and developing their countries to extract oil, and then we get poked in the eye. We should poke back. Fighting the Taliban and losing American lives over in that region to promote freedom for the citizens should not be without shared cost. To the victors go the spoils...but that would be politically incorrect...well, so is the sacrifice of American lives. And that's just the overseas dilemma. Domestically, we are shooting ourselves in the foot every day we don't drill for oil - off shore and on land, approve Canadian pipelines for oil, build nuclear power plants, or anything else that makes us energy independent. It has been shown time and time again that wind and solar power are not "cost justified". The business model just doesn't work financially. That is, unless our government drives up the cost of fossil fuel so high, that the pet projects of this failed administration turn that equation on its head. I’d rather pay lower prices at the pump, be energy independent and vote in a new president instead. It is up to us as citizens to be informed. It is up to us as citizens to get involved in the process that elects government officials that create the policies that we end up living under. It is up to us as citizens to vote in November. All this could be fixed. Since when did we get so complacent?
—Lou Romano

With rubber as our primary commodity, oil prices impact our costs tremendously and will impact the fragile recovery we have seen, particularly seeing work return from overseas. Government intervention though is the last thing we need. It is that "intervention" that has given us failed policies of ethanol, limits on alternative forms of energy--like nuclear, wasted handouts to solar energy, job producing pipelines being curtailed , US oil reserves remaining untapped and in New York moratoriums on natural gas extraction. Please stop the government intervention!
—Peter Short, J.J. Short Associates Inc., Macedon

Both to question two, all I want the government to do is to create an energy policy for the USA. If we adopted an energy policy to focus on natural gas to replace oil (the proverbial "Race to the Moon") in motor vehicles, the price of gas would drop over night. We have more than enough of a supply of natural in the USA until the day when we can migrate an all electric vehicles.
—Stanley Hilt

The only reason I say the government should intervene is due to this one fact. They already have. The regulations they have created for the environment have stifled competition since it is so expensive to start up an oil and or gas business. Refineries are shutting down due to the expense of maintaining environmental regulations. Refineries are the key there is plenty of oil flowing into our ports just not enough refineries in enough places. The government needs to intervene by spurring investment in new refineries though grants and funds. This will not only lower the prices by increasing supply but will provide jobs for people to build the refineries.
—Eric Cornwell, Zymurgy Instruments Inc,

Other than releasing oil from the Strategic Reserves, which is very short term, I am not sure how the Federal Government could stop the rise in a commodity subject to constant speculation. Our best opportunity was back in 1972, when we should have undertaken energy conservation as a matter of national security. Even if we "drill baby drill" and frack the heck out of shale, that's very expensive and limited supplies. We remain at the mercy of speculation and rapidly growing demand in China and India.
—Carlos Mercado

It's complex to control gasoline prices, but it is frustrating that we never seem to go full throttle at energy independence.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.

“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Comment by Steven Chu the Obama Energy Secretary in WSJ interview. Mission Accomplished!
—Bill Cole, Torq-Masters Technology Inc.

American's respond to personal financial pain before any other stimuli to conserve. In the past, the rising gasoline prices forced drivers to cut back on discretionary driving and this had a huge the impact on increasing gasoline reserves. Let the market work!
—Frank Muscato

My pay does not go up just because gas goes us. So if I have to pay more to get around, that money has to come from somewhere (typically grocery money). I struggle to make ends meet as it is. Gas over $4 is catastrophic for my budget.
—Ann Tracy, Pittsford

Instead of getting more involved, the US government can improve the situation by getting less involved.....simply call off the regulatory agencies that continually block domestic supply from expanding and prices will tumble.
—Jim Ryan, RYCO Management

The only thing government should do is get out of the way of the market. Requiring seasonal and regional boutique mixtures of fuels cause spot shortages around the country. Limiting domestic exploration and refinement, not approving the Canadian pipeline fall squarely on the government as the cause of price increases and accelerated speculation.
—Paul Ciminelli, Range Repair Warehouse LLC 

The government should get out of the way. This current administration is a tone deaf, one-trick pony. With the amount of available reserves within this country's control and within reach in friendly countries, the US can improve its economy and put many people back to work within a couple of years. But the Washington brain trust is more bent on centralizing control of as much of the economy as possible which is a recipe for disaster in a democracy. Additional note: Where is the much photographed NY senator who railed against the previous administration at every opportunity when gas prices were headed to $3. Am I cynical or is he a hypocrite?
—Bob Miglioratti

Federal government should allow more oil domestically, including ANWR, 5% of federal lands, the Keystone pipeline, and remove environmental objections to build new refineries. The last refinery was built in the USA in 1977. Free market could then operate and gas prices would come down.
—Michael Kibler, chairman, Buffalo Newspress

Government intervention always ends in bad results. Let the market decide. However, the government needs to get out of the way. Let drilling begin. Let pipelines be built. Reign in our debt by reducing spending. If we did not have deficit spending and were serious about using the resources we have, the price of oil would drop and gasoline prices would fall. But that is NOT the strategy of the current administration; they want high gasoline prices so we use less.
—Bruce Anderson, Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Stores

Of course gasoline prices will rise - oil resources are finite, and we are at or past the peak of oil production. It will only encourage past wasteful habits to continue if prices are monkeyed with. I also know that it just “fuels” the profits of Big Oil to raise prices. We need to be on board with efficiency, conservation, & renewable energy now!
—Margie Campaigne, Project HOUSE/Green Irene

The government should work to eliminate the speculators that can cause a price increase based on a newspaper article when not one drop of higher priced oil has hit US shores. Especially when the countries named admit they use very little of the product and it will have no effect on them.
—Eric Muench, president, Genesistems Inc.

I am not as concerned for what I put in MY gas tank! I am concerned because of the domino effect that adds "added" costs to everything! Also, I am NOT for the government doing anything, but it was the government that got us into this mess, they should NOT be left out of the responsibility equation!
—J.A. Depaolis, Penfield

The biggest reason for the increase in gasoline prices is the lack of drilling in this country. We need to remove from office: President Obama and all congressmen that are "in the back pocket" of the environmental groups. Specifically, we need to be drilling off of the Pacific Coast, the Atlantic Coast, Alaska and more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Also drill where recent discoveries have been made in the lower 48 states.
—Harry Caruso

While I believe that market forces should be allowed to work, I think that the federal, state and local governments should raise revenue through additional gas taxes to encourage conservation to reduce demand and provide a source of funds to meet the ever increasing need to repair bridges, streets and highways, and to support public mass transit, which would also reduce demand.
—Nathan J. Robfogel

Drill, Drill, Drill, Drill and Drill some more. Are we so stupid that we can't understand this simple concept. We have lost all common sense... as a nation.
—Jim Piampiano

Isn't everybody?
—Rich Calabrese Jr.,  Rochester

Government is dealing with the aftermath of one of the most horrific economic conditions since the great depression. If they do nothing, we could seriously drift back into the double dip, or worse!
—F.J. Muto, president, FJM Inc.

Your question is slanted. Why, when the government has done everything in their power to prevent us from becoming oil independent would you not offer the choice "should government get out of the way"? We have millions of existing miles oil pipeline in this country, yet we sit by and allow pure politics to stop a 1200 mile pipeline from a friendly country...we must responsibly drill here to get oil independent of those who want to kill us.
—Steve Taylor, North American Filter Corp.

The government should take steps to open up domestic supplies of oil. Other countries are drilling off the coast of Florida but the U.S. is not--whose safety standards are likely to be higher? The number of U.S. rigs operating in the gulf continues to decline. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu may yet achieve his dream of having U.S. gasoline prices match those of Europe.
—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions Inc.

The only government "involvement" should be to lift the moratoriums on offshore drilling, to fracking, and to the Canadian pipeline!
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc.

Government should act by reducing their current interference in the energy market system. They are attempting to nationalize by regulation. Government should get out of the way should allow the market forces to work. That is they should stop placing all the barriers to success. The XL pipeline, offshore drilling, licensing more refineries, in NYS allowing natural gas drilling, licensing more nuclear plants. When they (government) get out of the way the market offers competitive energy sources and the prices come down. After obviously corrupt, artificial supports of wind and solar we now know they are a complete failure of government policy and are not the answer. They can be a supplement if allowed to work within the market and have shown success when employed at the source of use by individual users (home owners and businesses) but cannot and will not succeed on a large scale. This is a fact of science. We as a nation and a state have to be allowed to use all the sources around us without suppression by special interests and the ignorant politicos who are interfering with success. Competition between various energy sources and systems is the key. That will drive energy prices down and thus stimulate the economy by reducing the costs of producing everything.
—Karl Schuler 

Gas prices have gone through ups and downs based on fear and ignorance, speculation about the future, and greed. Of course, my and other businesses are negatively affected by the rising gas prices and the resulting increase of price for everything. We, the customers are helpless and powerless, being the hapless 'cash cows' of the oligarchy of providers. The 'invisible force' of the market surely has not worked for the past century the way it was invented. Considering the past ten depressions, I don't trust those who claim the 'Invisible Force' as their Saint and God. On the other hand, the government, which caters to whom? is not the place to interfere into pricing. However, it is in charge to put up rules and regulations to make the systems in the Country fairer and more efficient. Thus, both have to be in tandem. Let any of them run off alone, and we are getting a step closer to Fascism. We have come darn close to it by the uncontrolled actions of 'the Market' and its owner's options (PACS) to buy control of our State and Federal Governments.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting

In a time of economic stress, the price of gasoline affects everything we touch and impacts our ability to live and work. Oil companies have raked in record profits at the expense of all Americans. Big Oil equals "domestic terrorism", without a doubt. As soon as some media pundit proclaims the economy is improving, it is soon followed by the inevitable "gas prices are expected to rise." And amazingly, it starts rising the very next day. It is not as much market driven as it is greed driven. And don't mistake excuses for cost increases as non-political. If the economy stalls due to higher gas prices, what political party benefits...the republicans. And I am not a fan of the current president or some of his policies. It is politics as usual with our wallets. Shame on all of them.
—R. Bick

You can't complain about gas prices if you're against hydofracking. Hydrofracking is an attempt to break our dependence on foreign oil and banning it will only increase that dependency.
—Joanne Greene-Blose, The Project Solvers of America Inc.

We should all be concerned, that we are now being prepped for $5 a gallon gas this early. Last time when oil made it to $141 a barrel and $4 a gallon gas it affect all of us at all levels. This act of $5 a gallon gas is intended to shut down the economy. The real question that should be asked is: Why has our state and federal governments gotten into our country's way so that we can-not be energy self-sufficient?
—G. Palis

(c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

What You're Saying 

George Kafantaris at 2:29:08 AM on 2/26/2012
Iran is in a serious dilemma. On the one hand it wants to show the world all it's got and put it at ease, while on the other hand it fears that such show 'n tell will give its enemies a roadmap to bomb it.
Saddam Hussein faced a similar dilemma ten years ago. Though he w...  Read More >
Brentwood Belair at 9:09:33 PM on 2/26/2012
I write a sports blog, but I have to weigh in here. Why can't a country that shot men to the moon, dreamed up String Theory, and introduced the World to one-size-fits-all, develop an car that runs primarily on water? Hey, wait. We did. Instead of drilling for more oil, why...  Read More >

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