As gas prices remain high, Sen. Cantwell demands change

By:  Lindsay Cohen, komonews.com
SEATTLE -- With Memorial Day comes the unofficial start to summer, and unlike in years past, gas prices have actually come down nearly 18 cents this month.

Still, many places in Puget Sound remain above $4 for a gallon of gas. That's nearly a dollar more than this time last year, according to AAA.

"Painful," said Seattle driver Molly Barrett, while filling up her tank at Seattle Center. "P-a-i-n-f-u-l."

Washington state has some of the highest gas prices in the country -- prices so high that travelers will spend 12 percent less on their summer vacations this year than last, AAA said.

Beyond drivers, small businesses like the Victoria Clipper say the cost of fuel has increased almost 50 percent since just October - hurting their bottom line. Their president and CEO blames speculators.

"I don't see any difference in the manner that they approach business than what the banking industry did to this country in the last couple of years," said Darrell Bryan, Victoria Clipper President.

Without tighter regulations across the country, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) believes there is no end in sight, and she wants federal regulators to rein it in.

"You have to find a market in which you're finding the true price and not having the volatility that we're seeing with oil," she said. "It has to be based on some fundamentals of supply and demand."

On Sunday, Cantwell called on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to institute rules to rein in excessive speculation. Cantwell hopes it would bring price relief at the pump.

Cantwell says each driver in Washington will pay about $150 more on gas this summer than last year -- a total of $672 million for our state.