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    Secretary Abraham says soon-to-be-released data shows a sharp drop in fuel prices.

    U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said yesterday new data to be released this week will show gas prices have fallen about 5 more cents a gallon nationwide.

    In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Abraham said predictions of dramatic price increases of as much as $3 per gallon have not panned out. "My prediction is that when our Energy Department releases this week's forecasts, we are going to see that prices have fallen about another 5 cents from last week, about 17 cents from the high back in May and 10 cents lower per gallon than they were a year ago," Abraham said.

    Last week, the Energy Department reported that gasoline prices at the pump fell 6.3 cents from the previous week to $1.538 a gallon on average. The latest price, based on the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of 800 service stations nationwide, was the lowest since early April and was down 1.2 cents from a year ago.

    But Abraham again maintained the situation would worsen over time if alternate sources of energy were not found in the United States. "The long term is not so optimistic," he said.

    In California, where energy shortages have caused blackouts, Abraham said the situation has eased somewhat because of conservation and mild temperatures but predicted more blackouts for the state. "If they (temperatures) start skyrocketing, then you could have some serious problems," he said.

    Abraham also accused Democrats of blocking administration efforts to develop energy supplies while offering no credible alternative. "The Democrats are offering a plan that is only conservation. That was what California did and that is why they have blackouts," he said. "If America follows a conservation-only approach we'll find ourselves with shortages."

    "These are not just temporary problems," he added. "It may not happen this summer but it is going to happen sooner or later if we don't do more here at home."

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