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With gas prices on the rise, Napolitano pens a letter

Governor asks Department of Energy why prices have jumped 40 cents in the past month

 by Matt Stone
 published on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

DEATH, TAXES AND GAS PRICES: Film and media production freshman Sean Newberg fills up at the Shell gas station near campus. Gov. Napolitano recently wrote a letter to congress concerning the high prices Arizonans are paying at the pump.  /issues/news/700428
Lee Kauftheil / THE STATE PRESS
DEATH, TAXES AND GAS PRICES: Film and media production freshman Sean Newberg fills up at the Shell gas station near campus. Gov. Napolitano recently wrote a letter to congress concerning the high prices Arizonans are paying at the pump.
 

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Gas prices have risen in Arizona more than 40 cents in the past month, prompting Gov. Janet Napolitano to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy for an explanation - but is it enough?

Napolitano sent the letter Friday asking why prices have soared to about $2.73 a gallon as of Monday for regular unleaded gasoline from $2.31 a month ago, according to fuelgaugereport.com.

The national average is $2.58, according to the Web site.

Katie Sachs, a political science and history junior, said she's not sure what more Napolitano could have done - but there must be something.

"Writing a letter, I suppose, isn't enough," she said. "I'm not, by any means, a big Napolitano fan. I don't like her, but I'm not sure what more she could've done."

Napolitano used the same strategy in 2004, sending a letter to Washington when prices neared $2 a gallon.

In the letter Napolitano sent last week, she asked for a minimum response that would "help consumers understand why they are being forced to pay record prices so far in advance of the traditional summer season."

In 2004, she requested a similar minimum explanation for "why prices have risen so significantly in the last several weeks."

But the letters aren't the same, said Lynette Evans, Napolitano's policy adviser of regulatory affairs.

"The previous letters were a little bit broader, looking at the entire industry and pricing of fuel," she said.

This new letter is aimed more at how the oil is refined and why the methods are costing so much money, Evans added.

"We were concerned because there seems to be a high number of refineries," she said. "It's a little bit unclear to us. She's asked for an inquiry into that aspect."

One major change between the wording of the two letters was Napolitano's request to move toward energy independence, a goal that Jennifer Bianchi, a graphic design freshman, said she agreed with.

"Maybe we should just change everything around," she said of gas dependence.

In her home state of Maryland, Bianchi said prices were just as bad.

To try and emphasize the letter, Napolitano is asking other governors to sign on to the inquiry, Evans said.

"There's not a whole lot that an individual governor can do on this issue," she said.

And any other action that could be taken will have to wait, Evans said.

"The last letter we sent ... it was about a month before we heard back from the energy department," she said.


Reach the reporter at: matthew.g.stone@asu.edu.



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