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Protesting A Jump At The Pump

In car-crazy California, motorists are doing the unthinkable: leaving their cars and taking to the streets to protest the price of gasoline. CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

"How are you going to buy milk for your children and gas for your car to go to work on?" yelled one protestor.

Gas prices are high and going higher this holiday weekend. The American Automobile Association says gasoline prices jumped by nearly 12 cents per gallon in the past two weeks -- the steepest increase since 1990.

The national average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline increased 11.8 cents since March 16 to reach $1.088 per gallon, the AAA said.

California was hardest hit. During the last month, prices rose about 40 cents a gallon. At some stations, the cost of gas is almost two dollars a gallon.

"I'm furious," was the reaction of one motorist. "I paid 93 cents a gallon just a couple of weeks ago."

"I'm going to go broke just driving around," another said.

Earlier this year, there were price wars around the country. What is causing the rise now? There isn't really any one factor, analysts say.

The oil-producing countries collectively cut production last month, which had an impact. Also, fires at refineries in northern California cut into supplies.

Gasoline dealer Alan Cherko blames it on greed.

"Oil companies have had a bad year," he said. "I think it was a time they could get the prices where normally they should be."

Cherko is raising his prices every day, in response to the price his supplier is charging him. Still, he thinks things will settle down soon.

In the meantime, one protestor wondered, "What are we going to do? What are we Americans going to do?"

There has been a call for a National Gas-Out Day, where drivers would refuse to buy fuel on one day as protest. The movement is being spread on the information superhighway, by e-mail.

Others think the government should put the brakes on rising prices.

Meanwhile, California will get a break this weekend. Some oil tankers are being diverted, bringing their loads here. But that means taking gas from other places, which will affect prices elsewhere.

Dealers are reportedly already raising their prices across the country. The following are average price hikes in the United States:

  • New England: up 7.2 cents to $1.054.
  • Mid-Atlantic: up 8.8 cents to $1.032.
  • Great Lakes: up 17 cents to $1.123.
  • Midwest: up 11.9 cents to $1.042.
  • Southwest: up 14.5 cents to $1.087.

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