By Jack Dalton
Lansing Star staff writer
Lansing area gas prices increased 8 cents on average this week, up to $3.60 for a gallon of regular unleaded, Dearborn-based travel organization AAA Michigan reported.
AAA surveys 2800 Michigan gas stations daily, and spokeswoman Nancy Cain said that prices for March increased nearly 10 percent from February, and almost 30 percent from last March. “The current statewide average is $3.527, 30.9 cents more than last month and 80.5 cents per gallon more than last year at this time,” Cain said.
Up from $3.52 last week, the Lansing market had an average price of $2.78 in March of last year. Prices across the state went up about 2 cents from last week, the fifth straight week prices increased.
The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report shows that Lansing prices have typically been in the neighborhood of the national average, both of which have consistently been below the state average.
Lansing resident Albert Weck said gas prices have little effect on his driving habits. “I don’t drive very much, mostly only to work,” Weck said. “Fortunately, I work at a car wash in East Lansing, so I don’t have to go very far.”
Weck said the price of gas is an added inconvenience, but he remained optimistic about the cost. “It’s crazy, but I guess it’s better than when it was over $4 a gallon,” Weck said referring to the summer of 2008 when the average price of a regular gallon was at an all-time high across the country.
Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association, said even with the increased price of gas, some stations haven’t been breaking even the past month. A large percentage of the price is federal gas tax, state gas tax, sales tax, and charges from credit card companies that the retailer must pay.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office has said it will closely watch the trend between prices retailers are paying and charging to reduce the risk of price gouging, especially with how oil prices have fluctuated recently with unrest in the Middle East.
The International Energy Agency said the conflict in Libya may have disrupted more than half Libya’s normal daily oil output. Libya typically produces about 1.6 million barrels each day, but now that number could have dropped to 600,000 barrels per day, though it is hard to tell.
For up to date prices, www.michigangasprices.com is a website where drivers often enter prices they see around the state. On Sunday March 27, a gallon of regular in Lansing ranged from $3.52, mostly at Speedway’s, to $3.64 at Sunoco, 3000 Dunckel Road.