Gas prices have shot up an average of 5 cents nationwide in the wake of Hurricane Ike, which has shut down almost 100% of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf Coast region. Gas prices in the Gulf area have risen as high as $5 per gallon, and an expert warns that many Americans may see the return of $4 gas, reports the Washington Post.
Power outages have plagued many Gulf refineries, making it difficult for officials to predict when normal production levels will resume. President Bush has warned against price gouging and the EPA has temporarily relaxed some import restrictions to allow an infusion of foreign fuel into the hardest-hit states. The Gulf Coast provides about 40% of domestic oil supplies.