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News Release: Gas Price Calculator Puts Price Tag to Consumer Anger Over Gas Prices

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, May 4, 2006

Americans in 50 metro areas will pay $83 billion more for gasoline this year at $3 per gallon, compared to the prices they paid in February 2003 — and even more if prices continue to rise as expected, says a new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis that calculates the increased cost of gasoline per family in the 50 largest metro areas.

Families in sprawling Southern cities with limited mass transit systems drive the most miles per year and will pay more. In Nashville, Memphis, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta, the average family will pay at least $2,000 more for gasoline this year than in 2003 at $3 per gallon. In those five cities, and including Denver, Oklahoma City and Jacksonville, a two-car family will pay between $4,000 and $4,800 per year for gasoline, a huge bill for the typical family earning the median income of $45,000.

At the other end of the scale, the average two-car family in transit-friendly New York City will pay only $1,164 more this year. Based on the current national average gas price of $2.92, the average two-car family will pay $1,774 more this year than in February 2003.

EWG's Gas Gouge Calculator is the only tool of its kind available online. To see how your community ranks, go to http://www.ewg.org/reports/gaspricewatchdog.

"As gas prices surge past $3 per gallon, families are paying for the nation's failure to invest in transportation options, alternative energy and tough fuel efficiency standards," said Dusty Horwitt, EWG energy analyst. "These glaring gaps in national energy policy leave Americans at the mercy of spiking gasoline prices — whether they are caused by global demand for oil, a terrorist attack, a hurricane or investors pushing oil past $75 a barrel."

As politicians pander to consumers with schemes for rebates or calls for investigations of price gouging, they've really done nothing to address the needs of American families, Horwitt said.

Congress and the administration have tried repeatedly to cripple Amtrak, the government sacrificed millions of acres of public lands to oil and gas drilling for tiny amounts of energy, and President Bush directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back air pollution safeguards at oil refineries in an ill-conceived effort to increase gasoline supplies.

Nationwide, soaring gas prices amount to a multi-billion dollar tax on consumers. In the largest 50 metro areas, consumers are spending $86.7 billion more per year on gasoline than they did in January 2001.

"Instead of bogus $100 bribes or shortsighted gas tax rollbacks, Congress and the administration need to get real about national energy policy," said Horwitt. "We need higher gas mileage standards, funding for rail and transit equal to what we spend on new highways, and oil company taxes that reflect their windfall profits."

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Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

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