Can anything be done about Albany's high gas prices?

Paying more at the pump

Gas prices continue to rise across the nation and Southwest Georgia is no exception. But what's really behind the price hikes and what â"if anything â" can be done about it?

The average price for a gallon of gasoline in Georgia is $3.46. That's a few cents less than the national average of $3.51 and almost 50 cents less than California's high of $3.90 - but it still hurts.

"Supply and demand affects gas prices more than any one thing," said Darton College Political Science Professor Roger Marietta.

Marietta believes there's more to higher gas prices than what's showing at the pump. "We've been fortunate, really, that oil hasn't really kept up with inflation," he said.

Marietta also cites economic data that shows the average price for a gallon of gasoline in 1981 would be $3.24 when adjusted for inflation â" not far from current prices. But he also warns that over the long term, higher gas prices could throw the economy back into recession. That possibility has many calling on President Obama to tap into U.S. oil reserves, which contain 727 barrels of crude.

"It's an option we are considering but there are a number of factors that go into it," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "It's not price-based alone."

"People expect President Obama to do something, whether it be tap into the national energy reserve or to intervene in Libya," added Marietta.

Marietta says there may not ever be a time when the U.S. is completely independent of fossil fuels. He does, however, see a potential silver lining in the black cloud of higher oil prices. "It makes some of these alternative energy systems more feasible," said Marietta. "They're more economically viable. We can absorb a little bit of a temporary price increase even if it is a rapid price increase without too much damage."

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