By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
Greene County has some of the highest gas prices in New York state, according to AAA.
The average price of gasoline in Greene County was $4.479 as of March 9, compared to a statewide average of $4.431 and nationwide average of $4.252, according to the organization.
The average gas price in neighboring Columbia County was $4.461 and in Albany County it was $4.455.
Prices at the pump have been soaring the past couple of weeks, largely due to the war in Ukraine, among other factors. Gas prices are higher than they have been in nearly 14 years, according to AAA.
“As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, crude prices soar, leading to higher pump prices in the U.S.,” according to a March 7 statement from AAA. “The national average for a gallon of gas is $4.06, a staggering 45 cents more than a week ago, 62 cents more than a month ago and $1.30 more than a year ago.”
“The national average has not been this high since July 2008,” the statement continued.
While prices are high now, they are only expected to worsen as the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports takes effect.
President Joe Biden announced the ban Tuesday in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Biden said in remarks at the White House on Tuesday. “But there will be costs as well here in the United States.”
The statewide average price for regular gas was $4.431 per gallon as of Wednesday, and rose nearly 7 cents from the day before alone, when it was $4.366. One week before that, the price was $3.845, and a year ago it was a dollar cheaper at $2.849 per gallon, according to AAA.
The price for premium gas Wednesday was reported at $4.902, but in many places in the Capital Region was above $5.
As prices at the pump continue to rise, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, called on the state to suspend the state gas tax.
“This is a concrete action we could take to immediately lower prices at the pump for all New Yorkers, so let’s suspend the gas tax now!” Tague said in a social media statement.
On March 8, New York State Attorney General Letitia James warned oil companies and gas stations that price gouging is illegal.
Price gouging is charging exorbitant prices for necessary goods when supplies are limited or demand is high.
James issued the warning after the president’s announcement of the Russian oil import ban Tuesday.
“President Biden is taking critical and necessary action to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked invasion that has claimed thousands of Ukrainian lives,” James said. “This newest round of sanctions could impact New Yorkers, so we are reminding companies that price gouging is illegal and ensuring that consumers take precautions to protect themselves and their wallets. Anyone who has experienced issues relating to price gouging of fuel should contact my office, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect consumers.”
New Yorkers are asked to report suspected price gouging by filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at ag.ny.gov and include the specific increase in price, the date, place where the price was being charged and the type of fuel. Consumers filing a complaint should also provide copies of their sales receipt and a photo of the advertised prices, if available.