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Energy Dept. Warns No Relief in Sight

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As pump prices near $3 per gallon in many parts of the country, the Energy Department is telling motorists to get used to it.

Undersecretary David Garman said there's little that can be done in the short term, made worse by what he calls "thin capacity margins."

NBC4 in Washington reported that Garman said prices will not decline quickly, even though there may be some moderating after the summer driving season.

He also said motorists can help themselves by slowing down on the highway. He pointed out that for each five miles an hour over 60, it's like paying an additional 15 cents a gallon for gasoline.

Garman said frequent tune-ups and tire-pressure checks also help mileage.

Retail prices have been on a steady climb, setting new records in price, though some point out that they have been higher, when adjusted for inflation.

AAA put the national average on Tuesday for a gallon of unleaded, self-serve gasoline at $2.52. Monday's average was $2.48.

Passing Prices On

The costs to businesses may soon be working their way to consumers in the form of higher prices, Lancaster, Pa., television station WGAL reported.

"If it hits $3 a gallon, I might have to consider doing that," said Jim Darrach, with Jim's Spa Service. "I don't like passing it on to my customers, but I might have to."

Some other businesses that are fuel-dependent are already passing on the cost.

"And over the last five years, we've been able to educate our consumers that fuel is a constant variable, we've been able to build that into our business plan," said Mike Doner, with Way Delivery Service.

Five years ago, Way Delivery Service came up with a fuel surcharge plan that projected prices up to $2.65 a gallon.

Over the last few years, Way has changed its fleet as well, moving away from large trucks.

"Our fleet is now based on smaller cars. We have no vehicle older than two to three years old," Doner said.

Not every business may be prepared for these costly fuel times and soon consumers may have to pay more for just about all goods and services.

"Keep in mind trucking companies have to pass along the cost to the consumer and the consumer are the stores and the stores will pass it on to the consumer -- to us," said Mantill Williams, with the American Auto Association.

The National Retail Federation expects retailers will continue to absorb the fuel cost for now.

In the meantime, people just want to know why their wallets are getting pumped at the pump.

"Our aging refinery system really is being pushed to its limit day in and day out, [adding to] worry in the market about the sufficiency of supplies going forward and the ability of global oil producers to meet this demand and the refiners to meet this demand," said John Kilduff, with Energy Risk Management Group.

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