Three-dollar-a-gallon gas is here, just in time to hammer consumers for the Labor Day weekend.
Spurred by concerns over pipelines and refineries that have closed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and pressured by the demands of holiday travelers, regular unleaded was selling for $2.99 per gallon at some Council Bluffs stations this morning, with prices jumping overnight by as much as 50 cents per gallon for some blends and premium topping $3 per gallon.
That is well above the national average of $2.62 per gallon for regular unleaded as reported by AAA and above the Iowa average of $2.58. The Nebraska average was $2.67 for a gallon of regular unleaded, but many Omaha stations topped that mark by more than a dime.
All of the marks set new records, and the White House responded by approving the release of fuel from the nation’s oil reserves.
Gail Weinholzer, a spokeswoman for AAA of Minnesota and Iowa, said it now appears that hurricane-damaged pipelines and refineries along the Gulf Coast will not return to normal production until after Labor Day. Those refineries and pipelines produce one-third of the nation’s fuel.