2 - Fluctuating fuel prices confound consumers

From highs above $4 to lows below $2, gas prices touched everyone's life in Eastern Oregon.

The rise and fall of gas prices - As gas prices dramatically shifted throughout 2008, the effects were felt in just about every facet of the economy in Eastern Oregon and beyond.

First came the climb. Prices peaked in July, when crude oil sold for nearly $150 per barrel. That pushed gasoline prices well over $4 per barrel and created a ripple effect over several other areas. Higher transportation costs escalated the price of food and other transported goods. Car dealers reported plummeting sales of large vehicles such as trucks and SUVs. Even rodeo cowboys struggled to make ends meet as they traveled across the country amid skyrocketing fuel prices - many either shortened or tightened their yearly circuits.

But as the nation's economic struggles escalated later in the year, less demand dropped oil prices back to their lowest levels in years. Crude oil fell below $40 per barrel by late December, a startling decrease of more than 70 percent. Gas prices hovered between $1.50 and $1.70 per gallon in Eastern Oregon during that time. Those with bulk tanks will no doubt be stocking up.

The drop likely came as a welcome development for many consumers, already cutting costs to cope with the recession. Energy-consuming businesses also benefited from falling gas and oil prices.

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