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Record diesel prices impact Connecticut's maritime economy

Diesel fuel was $3.20 a gallon a year ago. Now it’s $6.36, with some experts predicting $10 this summer

CLINTON, Conn — The price of diesel fuel has soared to record levels with the experts saying the worst is yet to come. It’s making for a stressful start to the boating season at the Cedar Island Marina in Clinton.

“All the way around it’s ridiculous,” said Eric Martine, the dockmaster of the Carefree Boat Club.

“It’s going to be an interesting season. It’s a perfect storm,” added Pete Wheeler, the Captain of the Sea Sprite.

Diesel fuel was $3.20 a gallon a year ago. Now it’s $6.36.

“What we are dealing with right now is truly the first wartime energy economy that we’ve had to deal with since WWII,” explained Chris Herb, the President of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA).

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The price hike is the talk of the dock.

“All of my colleagues in the charter business are all nervous, they are all concerned,” said Capt. Wheeler, who we met getting his chartered fishing vessel ready for another season off Connecticut’s coast.

This year, trips cost $100 more for customers. Luckily, it hasn’t led to a lack of bookings.

“We were forced to make a decision on how much we are going to absorb ourselves and how much we can pass off to the customers and still be fair about it,” explained Wheeler, who told us how much cost he'll take in is really up to the fish.

“Some days the fish are close, we don’t have to travel very far. Other days you are going to travel a lot further than you wanted to to make sure you get your catch. Those are the days you really take the hit,” Wheeler said.

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At $6.36, a 200-gallon boat will cost you $1,272 to fill up.

“A lot of these boats aren’t even going to go out this year; they'll be used as summer condos,” said Eric Martins.

Some experts predict the price of diesel could reach $10 a gallon this summer. What would that mean for his members?

“People aren’t going to be going out. I don’t even think we would have people going out. Not a chance,” said Martins.

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CEMA told FOX61 that diesel prices will also affect people whose vehicles don’t even run on diesel.

“When you see the cost of shipping double in a very short period of time, that gets passed on to the price of food, fuel, prescription drugs. No matter where you go, you cannot run away from the impact,” explained Herb.

Herb added he thinks it was a mistake that the Connecticut General Assembly didn’t include diesel as part of the state gas tax repeal. He also believes federal energy policy like shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline and capping domestic production isn’t helping to bring down prices.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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