Fuel toll

7/17/2013

Consumers' steady thirst helps drive up gas prices.

Consumers' steady thirst helps drive up gas prices.

While there's much to enjoy during the summer — vacations and outdoor activities, for example — one seasonal arrival only brings heartburn.

It's the time of year for gas prices to surge, as the summer driving season once again has the price of a gallon of gas headed in the wrong direction.

On Monday, GasBuddy.com reported average retail gasoline prices in Kansas soaring 15.8 cents per gallon in the past week, hitting an average of $3.52 a gallon Sunday.

It's been higher locally, topping $3.60 a gallon at many places in Garden City.

On Sunday in Kansas, gas prices were 14 cents per gallon higher than the same day a year ago. The national average increased 0.4 cents per gallon during the last month, and hit 19.5 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

If there was any good news in the report, it was in gas prices being 5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.

But that's little consolation for families planning to hit the road for vacation, day trips or other travel. Expensive gas also hurts businesses, farmers, government operations and others who rely on significant quantities of fuel every day.

Experts say a combination of unrest in Egypt and production issues at some refineries are contributing to sticker shock at the gas pump. Above all, prices are driven by supply and demand.

While the goal should be to ease up on demand, too many Americans pull up to the pump with gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and trucks.

On the flip side are working families who don't own gas hogs, and still see fuel devouring more of their household budgets. After paying hundreds of dollars a month for gasoline, they have little left for other purchases. That hurts retailers and local economies.

The bottom line is that while we fume as gas prices soar, it's difficult to cut back.

Some motorists may ease up on the gas pedal. But in a nation with an insatiable thirst for fuel, a spike in gas prices when summer rolls around has become an annoying — but predictable — sign of the times.

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