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June 8, 2022

Gas prices rise to nearly $5

Eric Bedner / Journal Inquirer Matt Allegretti of Manchester fills up at the Big Y Express on Tolland Turnpike as Connecticut sees historic high gas prices.

Gas prices in Connecticut have reached record highs, inching closer to $5 per gallon early Wednesday, hitting consumers in their wallets at the pumps as big oil companies haul in hundreds of millions in additional profits, industry watchers and politicians say.

As of Wednesday morning, Connecticut coincided with the national average of about $4.95 per gallon of regular gas, and prices are expected to continue to rise in the immediate future.

The cost of a gallon of regular gas in the state has increased by about 65 cents in the past month and close to $2 for the same period last year, according to AAA.

The price hike comes as warmer weather settles in and people who have been isolating for two years are looking to travel.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Manchester resident Matt Allegretti said Wednesday morning while filling up at the Big Y Express on Tolland Turnpike in Manchester, which was charging $4.89 for a gallon of regular gas at the time.

He noted that gas prices tend to rise during the summer, and added that the cost of food and other commodities are also rising as a result.

“I feel like we’re being hit in every direction,” Allegretti said. “We’re all wondering when it’s going to stop.”


One major reason for the record gas prices, he said, is the impact the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on the oil market.

“It’s awful,” Manchester resident Shaina Walcott said on Tuesday while spending about $100 to fill her tank at a local gas station.

While working full-time, Walcott also must drive to Springfield College in Massachusetts every weekend to further her education.

She also placed much of the blame on rising prices on the war in Ukraine, and noted that gas isn’t the only commodity affected.

Killingly resident Shawn Martel, who was also filling up with gas at the Big Y Express on Tuesday, says he drives his mother to the Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute for her cancer treatments.

It used to cost him about $40 to fill his tank. On Tuesday, it cost about $70.

“It’s crazy,” Martel said. “Everything is increasing except our pay.”

He placed much of the blame on President Joe Biden, saying that Biden is pushing for more electric vehicles, and rising gas prices are a ploy to meet that agenda.

As prices are cresting here at $5 per gallon, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Monday that he is seeking legislation to ensure that big oil companies aren’t taking advantage of consumers.

On Monday he paid $4.83 per gallon at a gas station in Hartford, he said, and saw prices as high as $5.07 in a different part of the state over the weekend.

According to AAA, the average gas prices were the highest in the state at more than $5 per gallon in Fairfield County. This morning, the Mobil gas station on Oakland Street in Manchester posted gas prices at $5.03 for a gallon of regular if you use a credit card, and $6.39 for diesel gas. Gas at the Stop & Shop station at 161 Tolland Turnpike in Manchester was $5.05 a gallon this morning with a credit card.

“I’m angry, just as every driver in the state of Connecticut is understandably angry about these skyrocketing gasoline prices,” he said. “Obviously, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war is responsible for a good part of the increase in gasoline prices because he’s disrupted the world market and eliminated the sources of supply for many of the nations that would otherwise be providing it.”

Blumenthal, who held a press conference on the issue in Hartford Monday, said that the top five oil companies combined made 300% more in profits the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of last year.

That equates, he said, to $35 billion in extra profits, or about 28% of increased costs that consumers are paying at the pump.

“Those additional profits are directly out of consumer pockets,” Blumenthal said. “The big oil companies are profiteering; they are making record profits, causing consumers unprecedented pain.”

Instead of investing in more drilling that could stabilize the oil market and ease the burden on consumers, he said that large oil companies are using their new profits on stock buybacks and bonuses for executives, while also cutting jobs.

“The big oil companies are making no effort to conceal their profiteering. In fact, they are bragging to their shareholders,” Blumenthal said. “They are profiteering and taking advantage of an international crisis.”

To prevent “excess, unconscionable profiteering by the big oil companies,” Blumenthal is proposing a series of solutions, including a windfall-profits tax so that at least 50% of quarter-to-quarter profit increases on big oil companies would go directly back to consumers in the form of rebates.

If Congress adopts his proposal, the new tax would result in a $300 rebate per consumer based on current gas prices, he said.

Blumenthal is also proposing vastly expanding the authority of both the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to pursue price-gouging cases throughout the country.

“Clearly price gouging is occurring,” he said about gas prices. “The Federal Trade Commission isn’t the superpower against price gouging that it should be. This would give it price gouging authority on steroids.”

Blumenthal said his plan would hold big oil companies accountable by allowing for criminal penalties of $500 million or civil penalties of $10 million per month for a period of time.

He also placed some of the blame on Biden, saying the president should release more oil reserves and pressure Saudi Arabia to do the same, providing more supply to the United States and Europe.

Blumenthal and many others in Washington are also calling for the suspension of the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, a strategy that has eased some of the burden for Connecticut residents as state lawmakers have halted the 25-cent gas tax here.

Connecticut Republicans in the General Assembly on Tuesday also called for the local gas tax moratorium to be extended to diesel fuel, as well as a series of tax reductions to provide relief from rising energy and food costs.

They are calling for a special legislative session in order to do so.

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