As gas prices soar, McCaskill takes on oil giants -

As gas prices soar, McCaskill takes on oil giants

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- Gas has hit the highest local average seen in Missouri.  It shot up to $4.09 Tuesday, and it's even higher in Illinois at $4.19.

"It used to be about $36 for a full tank. It's now $50," Cindy Ringkamp says.  She drove her four-door sedan into the gas station on fumes because she says it's frustrating to watch dollars drain into her tank.

"I stretch it to the very limit and almost run out of gas," Ringkamp says.

Now Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is tackling the oil companies, hoping new legislation will strip away $2 billion a year that the United States gives to oil giants in the form of tax subsidies.

"This bill is about whether our country can afford to subsidized some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet," McCaskill says.  "I mean they've made a trillion dollars in profits over the last decade."

By law, that recouped money would be applied directly to the deficit; however, it will not control prices at the pump.

"I think it's gouging. I think it's wrong," Howard Brown says.  He too had little choice but to fill up at $4.09 to keep his pick-up running.

"I think the American people should stop buying gas for a week to show the companies that we are tired," Brown says.  "We can't afford it."

But a week won't work.  Economists say it takes a real change to consume less over the long haul before prices substantially dip.

"It's all about traders," John Hastings, an engineer for the oil industry, says.  "Traders are actually commoditizing the product and inflating the price to a higher level."

Fear is adding to that that the rising Mississippi River will flood refineries in Louisiana.

I asked him whether subsidies should be chopped.

"None of the oil is easy to find these days," Hastings says.  "We're always drilling deeper, we're always drilling further, and the investment cost is high, but if you look also, they're making a substantial profit."

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