Gas Price Gouging?

Gasoline gas prices CBS/AP

The latest spike in gasoline prices was met by angry protests in a Los Angeles neighborhood that could least afford it.

"We feel profiteers are using war as a method to gouge us," one protestor said.

As CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, in just the last week the average price for gasoline increased more than five cents and reached a nationwide average of a $1.66 a gallon $0.54 higher than last year.

This is too high for Charlie Crist, the Florida Attorney General who is calling for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into possible price gouging.

"The price of gas in Florida now has never been higher in the history of our state," Crist tells Hughes.

But the petroleum industry blames crude oil increases due to a possible war in Iraq and the Venezuelan political crisis.

"Prices have gone up because of world supply and demand conditions. You know it's a case of you either believe in supply and demand or conspiracy," says John Felmy of the American Petroleum Institute.

In California, paying more than $2.00 a gallon is common.

"You're forced to pay what they want you to pay," says one Californian.

But for unique reasons. State law is mandating conversion to a new even more environmentally friendly fuel.

"You want clean air, you got clean air. But you're gonna pay for it," says Bob Van Der Valk, an independent fuel supplier.

Independent analysts say even in California gasoline prices are not really out of line with what they should be considering as the price of crude oil. And if adjusted for inflation, the prices are still lower than they were in the 1970's.
  • Sue Chan

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