CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Traditionally, gas prices around the country rise during the summer, peak in August and begin to drop after the busy Labor Day weekend. This year, Cortlandt drivers may not see price relief at the pumps for some time.
With Hurricane Isaac knocking out power to countless refineries in the Gulf Coast, and an unsettled situation overseas, gas prices in the state have risen an average of 15 cents in the past month, to $4.11, the third-highest in the continental United States. The national average sits at $3.85 as of Wednesday, more than 20 cents higher than a year ago.
AAA Spokesperson Robert Sinclair Jr. said that immediate relief should not be expected, and that things can change by the day, depending on various factors.
“This is really a day-to-day progression. Things happen overseas we cannot control and prices can change significantly from one day to the next,” he said. “People were popping champagne after we hit an April peak and prices started to drop, and things literally changed the next day.”
Sinclair said Isaac caused a slight bump in prices, but a more threatening issue is the upheaval in the Middle East, which may ultimately threaten the nation’s supply of crude oil.
“We’re seeing some of the effects of the global market,” he added. “The continuing tensions with Iran may ultimately take away as much as 20 percent of the world’s crude oil.”
In Cortlandt, prices range between $4.09 at BP on East Main Street and Locust Avenue, to $4.28 at the Shell at Crompond Road near Garden Lane. Premium gas is well above $4.50 at most gas stations. The highest prices self-reported by drivers to GasBuddy.com, were in Bedford.
Cortlandt residents said they're using different tactics to deal with the high prices.
"I try to organize my time better, multi-task trips," said Theresa Fernandes, an administrative assistant whose commute increased dramatically when she was laid off from a job in White Plains, and took another in Stamford, Conn. Fernandes said she waited two weeks to begin her new job, because the office is moving slightly closer.
"I negotiated travel," Fernandes said. "I heard it might go up to $6, that's very scary," she said, referring to one gallon of gas. Fernandes said she will wait until she's at a gas stations with a good price to fill up her tank. "I won't just go to any gas station," she said.
Stations will switch from the more expensive summer blend of gasoline to a cheaper winter blend next week, but Sinclair said that motorists shouldn’t expect a sudden drop in prices.
“When they switch over next week, perhaps things will get better, but there are so many more factors than just that,” he said. “There’s so much going on, but in the short term, prices are more likely to continue to rise.”
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