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Gas prices in the D.C. metropolitan area are up 36 cents in the past month, and experts say gas prices may not peak for at least another month.
When pump prices blow up, it hits James Hart three times as hard, because he owns three big vans for his mobile pet grooming business. He spent a personal record on gas last year, and he says 2013 is off to a brutal start.
"We spent like $15,000 last year on gas alone," Hart says.
So Hart says he and his drivers will drive less, drive the speed limit, do what they can to conserve gas and wait for prices to come down.
"That's the only thing you can do," Hart says.
Gasoline prices may peak in late March into early April, according to Fred Rozell, an expert on retail pricing at the Oil Price Information Service. He says the reason drivers are getting pinched is tight supply. Refineries are shutting down to flush their systems of the winter fuel blend in order to ensure they have enough of the less volatile summer blend for the coming warmer months.
John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, says hedge fund and money managers are also to blame, because they are pouring speculative money into the futures market. And he wants our political leaders to do something about it.
"I think what's definitely disconcerting to motorists is that there is a deafening silence on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue," Townsend says. "And yet during the campaign season, when people think we're stupid, they keep talking about pain at the pump. Have you heard anything about pain at the pump from lawmakers since the election was over?"
The numbers are ugly. The average price for a gallon of regular in D.C. is $3.95, up 37 cents in a month. In Virginia, it's $3.61, in Maryland $3.74. And at many stations, it's well over $4.