Over the last day, gas prices in Hattiesburg have jumped 80 cents.
I spoke with Meredith this morning at the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office, which thankfully was working on Saturday. It seems that price increases are hitting the entire southeastern United States. The latest estimates indicate that 20% of the country's oil production comes out of the Gulf Coast, and those operations were interrupted by Hurricane Ike.
In Jackson, some gas prices have hit $5/gallon. For full disclosure, however, it does appear that retailers are paying the same increase from their wholesale distributors. These wholesale price increases are hitting independent gas stations just as hard.
Still, we need to make sure that price gouging is not occurring in our state. If you have a question or wish to report possible price gouging, call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Agency at 601-359-4230. If you wish to report a specific station having high prices, you can email me the name of the station, location, price per gallon, time and date of the price. I'll be glad to pass it on to the AG's office for you.
It's important not to panic. Prices will fall again over the next few days as operations pick back up in the Gulf. However, the shock over gas price increases in just one day is totally understandable, and I'll be glad to help in any way possible. As this instance passes, we need to seriously look at some sort of long-term plan to prevent every storm that blows into the Gulf from becoming a major disruption.
And in the end, we need to keep it in perspective. While we're experiencing some minor inconveniences, there are thousands of people on the Texas coast who are dealing with major losses of property, and in the worst cases, life.