Here's ABC's news report today about the gas out,
Protest Fizzles at Pump
Enthusiastic E-mail Campaign Has Little Impact
By Jordan Lite
The Associated Press
April 30 — A nationwide e-mail campaign urging drivers to boycott gas stations to protest high prices kept plenty of people away from the pump today. But across the nation, many drivers continued to fill up out of need or habit.
Business was down by as much as 50 percent at midday at a Chevron near downtown Sacramento, Calif., that charges $2.07 for full-service premium. The owner, Ross Relles, complained that gas stations are the wrong targets.
“Whoever is promoting this idiotic day, all it’s hurting is the small retailers like me,” Relles said. “We should be absolutely swamped because it’s not only Friday, but it’s payday.”
Since the “gas out” originated in an e-mail message, it was tough to tell exactly who promoted it and how widespread it was.
Mike Lambert, a new sport utility vehicle owner in Newark, Calif., said he urged six friends to join him in a daylong boycott in an e-mail message a month ago.
Within days, he said, others rallied to the cause and forwarded e-mails of their own.
“It’s time we did something about the price of gasoline in America! ... Let’s have a GAS OUT!” read one message that showed up in computers in Texas.
Global agreements to cut oil production sent the price of gas skyrocketing in recent weeks. Explosions and problems at refineries in California contributed to an especially sharp spike in prices there, prompting an investigation by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
The latest Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide showed the average prices at self-service stations was $1.1733 per gallon for regular gasoline, $1.2748 for mid-grade and $1.3598 for premium.
The average price in California for unleaded regular, self-serve gasoline is up 42 cents from last month, to $1.64 per gallon, the American Automobile Association said. Selected markets in California, however, continue to report prices of more than $2 a gallon for premium grades.
Oil company representatives said the boycott was unlikely to produce an oversupply of fuel or lead to lower prices. Still, people avoiding the pumps were pleased that at least they were having a symbolic impact.
“There’s a conspiracy among oil companies to keep gas prices high and profits high,” said Gary Ploss, of Rio Rico, near Tucson, Ariz. “If enough people get together, maybe they’ll get the attention of these oil companies and maybe something will get done.”
Oil company representatives said that prices are set in a competitive market over which they have little control.
“I think the purpose of the gas out is to send a message of frustration and we hear the message,” said Chevron Corp. spokesman Mike Libbey. However, he said the company has no plans to lower prices.
This winter, American motorists were enjoying extraordinarily low gas prices amid a perceived glut of oil on the world market.
“Consumers out west have seen prices go from as low as they have been in seven years to an all-time high in a period of just seven or eight weeks,” said Paul Moreno, a spokesman for the AAA of Northern California.
Still, drivers who drive for work and those who drive gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles couldn’t avoid filling their tanks.
Erika Litchfield of San Francisco was filling up her Land Rover at a Chevron Station in the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood, where classical music is filtered through speakers at the pumps.
“I have no choice. I’m stuck with this,” she said as the truck guzzled $30 worth of regular unleaded. “It’s awful, isn’t it? Trust me, if I had a choice I’d boycott.”
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