Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, put $100 of gasoline into his Chevy Suburban on Wednesday and that didn't even fill the tank.
The congressman had invited reporters to watch him pump gas and get his point across about rising gas prices and what he sees as an inadequate and "out of touch" response to the problem from President Obama.
He said the president needs to use all the options at his disposal to lower gas prices, including giving the Keystone XL pipeline project the green light.
The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would bring oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. President Obama rejected the initial construction proposal and lobbied Democratic senators to vote against a bill last week that would have bypassed his decision against the pipeline.
Rep. Schilling acknowledged that most or all of the oil from the pipeline, which still could be built, would likely be exported but said the increased supply to the global market would reduce gas prices.
The price of regular unleaded gas was $3.87 a gallon at the Phillips 66 U-Save Mart on 25th Avenue Court in Moline, where Rep. Schilling filled up Wednesday.
"People are stuck choosing between putting food on the table and pumping their gas," he said. "I find that unacceptable. As leaders, we have a responsibility to find solutions to the problem."
One of those solutions, Rep. Schilling said, would be to lift a moratorium still in place after the BP oil spill on drilling for oil off the cost of Louisiana.
Experts predict average prices could surpass $4 a gallon in the U.S. this year, fueled in part by rising demand in countries like China and India and conflicts in the Middle East. The average price of regular gas in the U.S. was $3.78 Wednesday, according to gasbuddy.com, up from $3.53 a year ago.
Rick Carlson was pumping gas into his Ford F250 truck during Rep. Schilling's news conference Wednesday. It cost Mr. Carlson, who works for The Arc in Rock Island, $73.19 for 18 gallons of gas. He said his family has been cutting back on its use of gas because of the high prices.
"We are super-consolidating trips and driving less," he said. "We used to go to Florida every year but we decided not to this year because of the cost of gas."