The Issues: Energy Costs

CBS News continues an election-year series titled "What Does It Mean To You?" focused on where the presidential candidates stand on major issues and how a vote for one or the other candidate might affect average people's lives.

In this report, CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason compares the Bush and Kerry plans for reining in high fuel costs.

The taxi drivers in Port Huron, Michigan, make up to 40 trips a day in this city along the Canadian border.

So this election year, Gary Goulette, who owns City Cab, Port Huron's biggest cab company, says, "The price of gas at the pump is our number one concern."

Goulette says he worries about gas prices, "four to five times a day," because that's how often he fills up to take his customers to the airport

"That's why I worry about it," he says. "Am I going to have to raise my prices so high that it will not become attractive to them to get a ride to the airport?"

In desperation, he even considered other energy sources.

Gary Goulette tried alternative fuels. As gas prices kept rising, City Cab became the first cab company in Michigan to convert one of its taxis to compressed natural gas.

He says the experiment "failed miserably," because the one service station that offered natural gas closed.

"I took a bath," Goulette says. "I probably lost $10,000 trying it out."

Asked what he would he say to the two men running for president, Goulette responds: "The common man needs relief."

President Bush's answer is more supply. "We must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy," says the president.

He would increase domestic oil production, opening areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration and drilling. He also supports tax incentives for renewable energy sources.

Democrat John Kerry would focus on demand, toughening fuel efficiency standards for cars, while investing more in new technologies and alternative fuels like wind power, coal and natural gas.

"There's no way for the United States of America to drill our way out of this crisis," Kerry says. "We have to invent our way out of it."

But from where Gary Goulette sits, no one candidate has the solution.

"I think it's a combination of everyone's solution," says Goulette, who worries we're running out of oil – and out of time.

"Why isn't it more of an issue? Why aren't more people frightened to death over it?" he wonders.

At City Cab, the issue is energy and they feel the meter ticking.