In just three days, as the national average has held fairly steady, local gas prices have gone way up and now back down. At some stations, prices went up more than 20 cents per gallon and 20 cents down in just three days.
On May 9, prices were up 20 cents. On the 10th, down 8 cents. Wednesday night, prices dropped 13 cents and Thursday at around 7 p.m., prices dropped again by 5 cents.
The roller-coaster pricing has sparked the attorneys general of Maryland and D.C. to announce that they are looking into the issue. On Thursday in D.C., the price of a gallon of gas reached an all-time high of $4.21 on average. AAA Mid-Atlantic is now calling on the District's attorney general to expand the scope of its investigation.
One Maryland gas station owner, who wouldn’t be identified out of fear of retaliation from a gas supplier, said the high gas prices are not his fault. He said the skyrocketing prices have actually hurt his business. Every day, his distributor sends an e-mail that lays out the price of gas.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before – and I’ve seen a lot,” the owner said.
On Thursday afternoon, the president of the distributor, Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores of Richmond, issued a statement saying that the prices were determined by suppliers of gasoline, who own the refineries.
Similarly, Capitol Petroleum Holding Company, which owns about half of the filling stations in D.C., said they couldn’t explain the price jumps.
An Exxon spokesperson declined to discuss the price. An industry analyst said simply that supply and demand determine price.
With prices swaying as much day to day, many drivers are left wondering: What is a fair price for a gallon of gas?
“The fact that it got this high, this fast, I know we're in Arlington, but still,” said Deidra Baily.
“It’s really that they're robbing us,” said Tracy Alphonso. “That’s how it feels.”
Some are considering desperate measures. “I'm hoping for it to go down or I'm going to buy a motorcycle or something,” said Diego Garcia of Annandale.