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Accelerating gas prices set record high for March

Thomas Bradley / Campus editor

As students come back from Spring Break to begin Ohio State’s final quarter, the U.S. average price of a gallon of regular gas has climbed to $3.89, the highest in U.S. history for the month of March.

The average cost of unleaded gasoline in the metro-Columbus area was $3.92 as of Sunday, which was up almost 20 cents from the previous week, and more than 50 cents from a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association daily fuel gauge report.

Gas prices at stations near the OSU campus are higher than the metro-Columbus average. The Shell gas station on High Street and Lane Avenue sold unleaded gas for $3.99 and mid-grade fuel for $4.18 Sunday.

President Barack Obama visited OSU’s campus to pitch his energy policy Thursday while central Ohioans were paying almost $4 at the pump.

In order to reduce high gas prices, the president addressed increasing fuel efficiency and renewable energy sources as opposed to his Republican opponents’ one-track focus on domestic drilling.

“So the problem is not that we’re not drilling, or that we’re not producing more oil,” Obama said. “We are producing more oil than any time in the last eight years. That’s not the problem.”

Obama also mentioned the Keystone XL plan as part of his energy policy, which would extend the Keystone Pipeline that will pump oil from Canada to the Midwest.

Obama toured OSU’s Center for Automotive Research before giving the speech. The center is the home to the fastest electric car in the world.

“You know what I’m talking about here,” Obama said. “Because this school is a national leader in developing new sources of energy and advanced vehicles that use a lot less energy.”

The president said vehicles are expected to average 55 miles per gallon by the middle of next decade. In addition, doubling current mileage standards will save the average family $8,000 at the pump over the life of the vehicle.

Jim Chen, a Ph.D student who specializes in renewable energy studies at OSU, said Obama’s energy strategy is not the right remedy for the rapidly rising gasoline prices.

“Although renewable energy, like wind and solar power, has a huge potential, the cost of incorporating a large amount of such energy at current stage is too high to decrease the gasoline price,” Chen said. “The related technique is not mature enough compared to the traditional oil-based one.”

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that gas prices will probably remain high, and that the US should start to develop energy resources.

“I think gasoline prices are going to be high,” Romney told New Orleans radio host Tommy Tucker. “However, they don’t have to be as high as we’re seeing under this president if we develop our own energy resources and provide them to the refiners.”

Scott Plunkett, a fourth-year in biochemistry, said he thinks the administration has no control over the predetermined oil prices.

“You can’t say that we have control over oil prices when oil companies, in fact, post large profits quarter after quarter,” Plunkett said. “Clearly we are not the ones causing this, it’s a global policy.”

Kimberly Schwind, AAA Ohio Auto Club public relations manager, explained rising fuel costs throughout the country in an email to The Lantern.

“Oil prices for much of 2012 have been driven by global news – geopolitical tension with Iran, sovereign debt concerns in the Euro zone and signs of economic recovery both domestically and abroad.” Schwind said. “Gas prices follow a typical yearly cycle. When looking at historical price data, gas prices typically peak around the second week of May and hit their bottom in December … This year, many are speculating that the peak is hitting a little earlier and higher than usual.”

Schwind said AAA is encouraged by several developments this week that have the potential to remove some of the risk premium from the market that has driven crude oil and gasoline prices higher this year.

“News that Saudi Arabia will be sending increased crude oil to the U.S. and President Obama’s announcement that the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline will be fast-tracked have the potential to put downward pressure on global oil prices and, by extension, gasoline prices in many markets,” Schwind said.

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