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New York News

$4 a Gallon...

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-965928.mp3

Albany, NY – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other economists admit high gasoline prices are slowing the economy - and there seems to be little anyone can do about it. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas checks in with two Albany area critics of big oil who have been very vocal in the past

4 dollar a gallon gasoline has torn a hole in personal and household budgets across the nation. Officials in several states have launched their own investigations into rising prices. When gas spiked in 2004, 5 and 6, Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners offered a variety of energy policy suggestions, which fell on deaf ears.

Conners has been an ongoing champion of establishing sustainable local facilities to manufacture ethanol, using natural vegetation instead of corn.

Conners would like to see the state legislature pass a law that would require pricing transparency at the pump.

The federal government has launched its oil and gas fraud task force investigation into sharply rising gasoline prices. The Massachusetts Attorney General is urging people to contact her office if they suspect gasoline price gouging. Mac Brownsen, president of the Gasoline Retailers of New York, says part of the problem is that there are too few refineries which have one burning desire: profit. And he agrees with Conners that not enough people are speaking out.

The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for shutting down a Shell Oil Company drilling project off the coast of Alaska after the company spent five years and $4 billion of its money in preparation for drilling. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed concern about the negative impact the cost of gasoline will have on the economy. Cuomo is reportedly mulling over a proposal to suspend 33 cents-a-gallon worth of state taxes on gas during the Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day weekends. Mike Conners warns that until the public becomes angry enough to vote people out of office, lawmakers won't really do anything substantial about gasoline prices.

A new survey from HomeAway, Inc. - which handles online vacation rentals - finds 8 in 10 Americans still plan to take a summer vacation, but will adjust their plans in light of rising costs, many opting to "stay"-cation close to home.