By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Motorists on Friday complained about the high price of gas to U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., during the congressman’s visit to Papa V’s downtown store.
Nunnelee, who returned from Washington to Northeast Mississippi this week, said he wanted people’s thoughts on the nation’s energy woes.
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, a fellow Mississippi Republican who represents the state’s 4th District, held a similar event Wednesday in Jackson County.
“The main thing I’m hearing is that people are driving less,” Nunnelee said after chatting with about a dozen people at the pumps.
The price of gas that afternoon at the downtown station: $3.59 for regular unleaded. A year ago, gas in Mississippi cost about a dollar less, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The current national average is $3.88. A year ago, it was $2.84.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Bridget Bumphis of Tupelo, who spends about $60 to fill the tank on her Chevy Impala. “It used to cost $30.”
Bumphis said rising fuel costs have reduced the number of dates she can afford with her fiancé. She also limits her driving to necessity-only trips.
Not so for Tupelo resident Adam Carlberg, who gassed up his Mazda Protege before driving to Nashville for a Broadway show. He put $26 in the tank, which already had been half full.
“I think they’re high, but in the U.S. we’ve been spoiled,” said Carlberg, who has family in Spain. “I don’t think people realize how expensive gas has always been in the rest in the world.”
European gas prices typically average $2-$5 per gallon more than in the United States, according to various sources, including the International Energy Administration and AirInc.
Nunnelee said the U.S. can reduce its fuel costs by exploring all domestic energy and reopening drilling in the Gulf Coast, which has been closed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010.
But Guntown resident Dacy Lambert said she worries about the environmental costs of the country’s voracious energy appetite.
“Drilling is important, and we shouldn’t be relying on foreign oil,” Lambert said. “But our government needs to pay attention to our environment, because if we don’t we’re just killing ourselves in the end.”