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High Desert gas prices continue to climb

After returning from a local hiking trip, Hesperia resident Colleen Calderon was shocked to find a hike of a very different kind Sunday afternoon.

Calderon said she stopped on her way out of town at a gas station on Bear Valley Road in Apple Valley. She said when she returned just a few hours later, the price of a gallon of gas was 5 cents higher than when she left.

Like Calderon, thousands of High Desert motorists have experienced the fuel increase. The average price of regular gas in San Bernardino County rose 72 cents since Christmas Eve when shoppers fueled up at $3.50 a gallon.

“I don’t understand why our government gives these oil companies money, and yet they keep raising the prices,” Calderon said. “They are making billions, plus collecting our tax dollars. This does not make sense to me.”

On Jan. 24, with gas at nearly $3.66 per gallon, gas prices in San Bernardino County climbed sharply for nearly 26 straight days, and peaked Monday at about $4.23. That was an increase of about 14 cents a week.

Locally, Barstow had the lowest and highest prices in the county with five stations at $3.95 a gallon, and one station, along with one location in Victorville, coming in at $4.69 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.

The national average for a gallon of regular gas Monday was approximately $3.70.

A 2010 San Bernardino Associated Governments report said about half of employed residents in the Victor Valley commute to jobs outside of the High Desert, including Sherri Compton of Victorville.

“I'm taking home less money because of the payroll tax increase, my medical insurance is going up and now higher gas prices,” said Compton, who commutes daily to Rancho Cucamonga. “If prices continue to go up, I’ll be making minimum wage.”

Compton said the constant economic pressure makes her feel like a hamster in a wheel, which continues to increase in speed.

In an interview with CNN money, Ray Carbone, president of the New York commodities trading firm Paramount Options, said rising crude oil prices, production cuts and refinery closings have contributed to the gas price increase.

“Right now, things are tight worldwide,” Carbone said. “Refineries going down, unanticipated maintenance and higher demand ... going into driving season.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, two-thirds of the cost of one gallon of gas comes from the price of crude, which has jumped 10 percent in the past 60 days.

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.

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