IRVING, Texas - The retail gasoline price spike resumed in earnest this week in Texas after a marginal increase last week, according to the weekly AAA Texas gasoline price survey released Friday.

Retail prices of regular-grade gasoline rose an average of 9 cents to $2.87 per gallon in the 11 Texas cities surveyed. Nationally, regular grade rose 11 cents to an average of $2.99 per gallon.

“Motorists saw gas prices skyrocket this week, with the city of Amarillo showing a 15 cents increase in only one week,” said AAA Texas spokeswoman Rose Rougeau. “Strong consumer demand, reduced domestic output due to refinery problems and lower imports continue to push prices higher.”

The issue of rising gasoline has drawn lawmakers’ attention.

In a press release issued Tuesday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he is calling on Democrats and Republicans to work “on a real, bipartisan energy plan that would provide meaningful relief to American consumers.”

“We believe that this is something that we ought to work on together in a bipartisan way to try to relieve the pain at the pump being experienced by working men and women and families all across this country,” said Cornyn, who earlier in the day had delivered similar remarks on the Senate floor, citing a critical need for increased domestic refining capacity.

“There are a lot of laws the Congress can pass - we can even repeal laws - but we can’t repeal the law of supply and demand,” Cornyn said. “And the only way we'll see these gas prices come down is to form new supply … we’ve gone from a high of 324 refineries in this country down to 132.

“The only way we’re going to be able to provide relief in the near term is to increase supply by reducing our dependence on imported energy, producing more of it domestically and removing some of the regulatory impediments which have made it impossible to create a new refinery in this country in the last 30 years,” he said, saying the nation should also continue its exploration of alternative forms of energy - “such as nuclear, clean coal burning technology and wind energy.”

State legislature action

The Texas House tentatively adopted a measure Tuesday that would suspend the state’s 20-cent gas tax through the summer months. That would mean an immediate 20-cent drop in the price per gallon.

“The more cars you have, the more relief you get,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who added the proposal to an omnibus tax collection bill.

The House voted 118-16 to give preliminary approval to the bill. Final approval is expected later this week.

It can go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law if the Senate agrees with changes the House made to the bill, including the gas tax suspension. If the Senate does not agree, the two chambers would meet to work out a compromise.

If the governor signs it, the tax relief would take immediate effect and be good for 90 days.

Statewide survey

Of the 11 cities in the survey, Amarillo had the highest average price of regular grade at $3 per gallon. The cheapest gas was still in Corpus Christi, where regular grade prices rose 10 cents to an average of $2.79 per gallon.

These are average per-gallon prices of regular, self-serve gasoline in Texas metro areas and the change from last week, according to the AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch released Friday:

Austin-San Marcos - $2.846, up 8.3 cents

Amarillo - $2.995, up 14.6 cents

Beaumont - $2.824, up 8.7 cents

Corpus Christi - $2.793, up 10.2 cents

Dallas - $2.880, up 6.8 cents

El Paso - $2.953, up 8.2 cents

Fort Worth - $2.877, up 7.9 cents

Galveston-Texas City - $2.867, up 6.6 cents

Houston - $2.857, up 7.3 cents

San Antonio - $2.806, up 7.8 cents

Texarkana (Texas only) - $2.853, up 6.8 cents