National Average for Gasoline Tops $4 a Gallon

by Tracie Potts

NBC News

Gas has now officially topped $4 a gallon nationwide and that's just an average.

Drivers in many cities are already paying a lot more.

We've seen prices close to $4.50 a gallon in some areas.

Short term relief appears to be nowhere in sight.

Long term, Washington's pushing but deadlocked on an energy policy that could eventually make a difference.

Today, most drivers just cringe.

Fill up and go.

With gas topping $4 and oil close to $140 a barrel, employers fear costly commutes could cost them top talent.

Peter Ronza of the Society for Human Resource Management says, "I've got $40-50 more a month transportation cost - this could be something that tips them towards the decision to leave."

Washington's still at odds over what to do about gas prices: put pressure on OPEC, drill in Alaska?

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says, "if we don't have more energy, we will never bring the price down."

Invest in renewable energy?

Investigate the futures market?

California Senator Dianne Feinstein says, "we believe that speculation itself is driving up the price of gasoline. The only question I have is 'How much?'"

Answers may not come soon enough to impact what you pay this summer.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says, "we need a dramatically different energy policy for our country, and that's not gonna happen overnight."

Now, people who can't afford to drive are getting on aging buses and commuter trains, forcing more investments there.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine says, "with gas at this level, rail and public transit has gotta be a bigger and bigger part of our future."

A future that's getting more expensive to navigate every day.

Here's a shocker: investor Goldman Sachs predicts oil could hit $200 a barrel in the next two years. $4 gas is here.  $5 could be right around the corner.