Who's to Blame for the High Price of Gas?

The report, released in May 2006, also said, "Consumers understandably are frustrated to be told that no laws are being broken even as prices increase substantially. It is important that they gain a better understanding of the working of energy markets. Gasoline prices — and energy prices in general — depend on the actions of all consumers and producers, and those actions can be changed. They can be modified over time by policies designed to make supply more responsive to high prices or to shift demand toward alternative energy sources."

At the time, Cooper with the Consumer Federation of American said oil companies didn't need to manipulate prices.

"The industry has become so concentrated, that they do not have to collude to raise the price of gasoline. Each company acts individually and knows full well that its brethren will act in a parallel fashion."

Critics blame federal regulators for inadequate oversight and examination of the impact consolidation would have in the oil industry.

Blame Game

For others who follow the industry, they point out one group that often goes unmentioned when it comes to higher prices.

People, Foss said, "want all the gasoline in the world available to them at cheapest prices and somehow they don't want to have any of the problems from using energy the way we do. People have to be responsible."

She added, "If people change how they use gasoline or energy in general, it will change how companies provide it."

Industry analyst Kyle Cooper with IAF Advisors in Houston put it bluntly, "If you are driving down the road in an SUV, you better not be complaining about gas prices."

Speaking for millions of drivers who face no other choice, Tony Spiliotis told ABC News in Los Angeles, "There's really not a lot you can do."

But if prices go up even further — say $4 a gallon or even $5 — the shock may just lead more Americans to change how they drive.

"If it goes up to $5 a gallon," said Jason Rivera who works as a messenger in New York, "that's it. Then it's time to park it."

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