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Business Owners Struggle to Weather 'Energy Price Storm'
CNBC.com | March 09, 2012 | 01:30 PM EST

The small business engine is going into overdrive as the price at the pump continues to go up. Rising fuel costs have some local business owners thinking twice about expansion.

Bart Chilton, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, knows this firsthand. “My brother and sister-in-law have an Italian restaurant and they were talking about hiring delivery drivers,” he told CNBC.com. “But last weekend, they decided to put that idea on hold due to gas prices.”

Chilton’s brother is not the only business owner feeling the pinch. This past week, the CFTC received a letter from 23 senators and 45 members of the House urging the commission to set energy position limits in an effort to slow down or halt the soaring gasoline prices.

“With a little math you can determine the ‘speculative premium’ on oil is about $23 a barrel, which translates into about an extra 56 cents for a gallon of gas, and that quickly adds up,” said Chilton. According to the International Monetary Fund, for every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of crude oil, the entire U.S. GDP is reduced by a half percent.

Congress members like Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., agree speculation is one of the drivers pushing up gas prices, and say American families and small businesses are suffering because of this.

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