Mike Lawrence: Maybe I’ll just walk | SteamboatToday.com

Mike Lawrence: Maybe I’ll just walk

Cost of gas hitting record highs

Brian Weerts fills his gas tank at the Shop & Hop station along US 40 in Steamboat Springs on April 19. Gas prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks, reaching an record-high national average Sunday.
Brian Ray

— Last weekend, I moved out of the little Old Town house I’ve called home since October 2005.

Even though I was only going across town, any move is a big job – my adored, fully oxidized ’93 Chrysler Concorde wouldn’t cut it. While the Concorde’s casual elegance offers plenty of cargo space, I needed something bigger.

So I borrowed a co-worker’s king-cabbed pickup.

Finding the tank near empty, I took the roaring beast to a gas station. I quickly dropped $60 on 19 gallons and realized my co-worker had an ulterior motive for loaning me the guzzler. He wanted a free full tank.

The cost of gasoline hit a record-high nationwide average Sunday, according to an oil industry analyst cited by the Associated Press. Filling ‘er up cost $3.07 a gallon across the country, nearly 20 cents higher than two weeks ago and four cents more than the previous high of $3.03 a gallon reached in August 2006.

On Monday, gas prices in Colorado hit nearly $3.09 – a record for the state. In Vail, a gallon of regular unleaded cost an average of $3.29, according to a AAA report.

Granted, gauging gas prices is subjective and largely dependent on surveys. According to AAA, America’s all-time high average was $3.06 in September 2005.

But all the numbers give the same message – gas prices are getting less stable by the day.

The AP reported repairs, partial closures or full shutdowns at several large refineries in the U.S. are spiking gas prices, which are highest in San Francisco.

My friend Sean has lived in San Francisco for years. He said it cost him $37.51 to fill up his ’97 Toyota Corolla at the gas station on the corner of Lawton and 42nd streets, where regular unleaded cost a whopping $3.59 a gallon Tuesday.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger speculated this week about the potentially disastrous impacts rising gas prices could have on municipalities.

“If we hit $4 a gallon, what are we going to do as a government?” Monger asked.

His concern was understandable. Like mine, Monger’s brain was still full of foreboding local and international forecasts from the “Fueling Thought: Trends in Energy” summit held in Craig on Friday, hosted by Yampa Valley Partners.

In Colorado, managing huge natural gas and oil shale resources while balancing environmental concerns and ever-growing consumption will arguably be the state’s biggest task for years to come. It’s a job Mike King, deputy director of the state Department of Natural Resources, said Colorado is still “trying to get its arms around.”

The state Legislature, which ended its 2007 session several days early Friday, made energy a lead issue during the past five months.

“This was probably the most active legislative session we’ve had,” said Greg Schnacke, executive vice president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which lobbies for extraction industries. “A new direction was set by the Ritter administration. Certainly, the regulatory climate in Colorado is going to change.”

The impact of those changes, which could include a more balanced makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, remain to be seen.

Meanwhile, don’t cancel that summer road trip yet – gasoline futures for June delivery dropped last week, falling to about $2.22 a gallon Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas prices generally follow trends in the futures.

But my co-worker can keep the pickup.

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