Gas prices in Aspen and Snowmass topped $5 a gallon yesterday and are expected to keep climbing.

Regular unleaded cost $5.13 per gallon at the Aspen Shell station on Monday, 14 cents higher than it was last week, and more than $1 above the national average of $4.11 reported by AAA. Gas prices topped $5 in Snowmass Village and at the Aspen Airport Conoco as well, with both places reporting $5.02 for regular unleaded on Monday.

In June, I wrote that Aspen was getting $4.65 a gallon while Glenwood was at $4.35, and Denver still at $3.95. It’s the most expensive place to buy gas in the state. In Aspen, people are using their cars less. They can do that because of the bus system and ability to get around easily on bicycles. For those of us in Denver, it’s not that easy. As to what’s in store for the future:

Wave Dreher, AAA Colorado spokeswoman, said she hasn’t heard of any indication that there will be any relief in the near future with the rising prices. “They always say, ‘truckers, watch your brakes, you’re not down yet.’ That can apply to gas prices,” she said.

Gas prices are expected to rise again this week. In California, electricity and natural gas prices may be next. I won’t be surprised if other states follow suit. President Bush held a news conference today on the economy but offered little help:

Regarding rising gas prices, Bush said, “I don’t have a magic wand. I can’t just say ‘low gas.'” As part of a solution, he discussed the controversial matter of drilling off the US coastlines to find new oil reserves. “It makes sense to me to explore for oil and gas… We need to help change the psychology, send a clear message that supplies of oil will increase.”

On the President’s drilling solution, Congresswoman Diana DeGette had this to say:

“President Bush’s plan is flawed and misguided. It will neither reduce gas prices nor increase energy independence – two things our country and the American consumer desperately need. “If he really wants to provide relief from high gas prices in the short term, the President must release a portion of the more than 700 million barrels of oil we have put in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It is the first step in bringing prices down quickly. Longer term, need to work hard to wean ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil.”

It’s the rippling effect the rising gas prices have on other industries that most concerns me. What are the chances the resulting price increases — from food to airplane travel to consumer goods — will go down even if the price of gas decreases? I think we are stuck with higher prices for everything for the foreseeable future. Since wages and earnings are unlikely to see a corresponding increase, there’s going to be a lot of disgruntled folks around. I’m turning into one myself.