Hurricane Katrina, as it shut down refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, is cited as the reason for the sharp increase in gas prices in the last 48 hours or so. My faovrite gas station has its prices blocked out on its display board, and I assume this means they are no longer selling unleaded gasoline. The orange traffic cones in front of the pumps would be a good sign of this as well. (They do still have a price listed for diesel, which was around $2.89 if I remember correctly. The diesel pump was unblocked.)
The other stations in the area are selling regular unleaded at $2.99 and above. How do we know that the gas stations or the oil companies aren’t making a huge profit on us, taking advantage of the catastrophic event? The President of United States even declared that price gouging will not be tolerated, but I can’t tell by looking at a price whether it’s fair.
Ron Kelley from CNN Money helps by presenting answers to frequently asked gouging-related questions. In the article, he recommends two resources: the daily fuel gauge (not gouge) report offered by AAA (which at first glance seems inaccurate in my areas) and the gas watch hotline, where consumers can alert the Department of Energy about gas stations whose prices seem unreasonably high.
That second resource led me to more information on the price of gasoline. Its information is only as recent as 2003 but from it you can get a reasonably clear idea of the components of the price of a gallon of gasoline.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published September 1, 2005. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.