Gasoline, lifeblood of the economy, is 20 percent more expensive than just a month ago. That's like finding out that sport utility vehicle you want is now $30,000 instead of $25,000, or that the suit you're planningto buy is $600, not $500.The bad guys in this case aren't obvious, according to a USA Today
story by James R. Healey and Barbara Hagenbaugh. The big fuel-price climb is due mainly to a complicated switch to summer-blend fuel from winter blend, required by federal air pollution regulations; by the routine and seasonal rise in crude-oil prices; and by a strike in Venezuela that's keeping oil off tankers.An additional factor that may make fuel prices rise even higher is the Iraqi oil embargo just announced April 8 by President Saddam Hussein. Iraq's former arch-enemy Iran quickly indicated its willingness to join an Arab oil embargo to protest the recent Israeli takeover of Palestinian territory. Libya, led by Col. Muammar Qaddafi, also expressed support for using oil as a weapon.Israel has in the past two weeks invaded several Palestinian strongholds on the West Bank in response to a wave of suicide bombings by Palestinian terrorists.Even before Saddam's announcement and Iran's apparent willingness to go along with him, oil industry analysts were predicting the third-highest summer gas prices in history. But if a general Arab oil embargo takes shape, all bets are off.