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'Impacts What We Can Spend': Drivers In Colorado Concerned About Rising Gas Prices

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Gas prices in the past year have jumped more than $1, and some economists fear the prices could jump another 50 cents to $1 in the coming months. A mixture of increased demand, lower supply and tensions between Russia and Ukraine are causing the prices at the pump to rise, impacting the wallets of everyday working Americans.

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"It scares the daylights out of me. (Prices) are outrageous, and they just keep going up," said Sue Stippich, a driver in northern Colorado. "My husband and I are both retired and on a limited income, which makes it extremely difficult. It impacts what we can spend on groceries or having a meal out once in a while."

Like most items for sale since the start of the pandemic, prices on gas are inflating to levels that are of concern for everyday people. No matter age or income, many expressed concerns about being able to afford to commute.

"They are pretty absurd, especially for high schoolers," said Caden Panis, a high school student.

"Unfortunately there isn't going to be a whole lot of relief in sight," said Stephan Weiler, Professor of Economics at Colorado State University.

Weiler said he has seen projections that imply gas prices could jump nearly a dollar higher in the coming months. Some Americans, like those in California, are already paying prices near $5 a gallon. Weiler said those rates could soon make their way to Colorado.

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"It is not out of the realm of possibility," Weiler told CBS4's Dillon Thomas. "When you ask an economist, it is something to do with supply or demand. In this case, it is a combination."

Weiler said Russia is to credit for an estimated 12% of the world's oil production. The possibility of an invasion of Ukraine and a military crisis involving the United States could cause prices to jump at the pump.

"They're a big producer. The markets generally hate uncertainty. And, the Ukraine situation is nothing if not uncertain," Weiler said.

According to Weiler, projections suggest more Coloradans could hit the roads this summer in an effort to travel as the COVID-19 pandemic transitions to an endemic. That demand could also cause prices to increase.

Some, like high schooler Carson Fagan, said they are already struggling to pay for gas at the current price. And between schoolwork and athletics, it is hard to afford to pay the gas bill.

"I drive a 2001 suburban that has a 29-gallon tank. And it is about $90-to-95 bucks. I only get about 11 miles to the gallon, so it is pretty tough," Fagan said. "I am going to have to start working."

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Weiler said there are no current projections that suggest gas prices will take a downturn in the foreseeable future.

"It is no question that we are really facing a lot of issues in the pocketbook, and we are facing them on an everyday basis. I can understand why people are getting really concerned," Weiler said.

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