Better start stocking up on diapers and detergent.
Consumers hit hard in recent months by sharply higher prices for gasoline and food should prepare to start paying more for various household items after Dow Chemical Co.'s decision to raise its prices by up to 20 percent to offset the soaring cost of energy.
The company, which announced the price increases Wednesday, took the unusual step of directing blame at the nation's energy policy makers.
"For years, Washington has failed to address the issue of rising energy costs, and, as a result, the country now faces a true energy crisis, one that is causing serious harm to America's manufacturing sector and all consumers of energy," Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical's chairman and chief executive, said in a written statement.
Dow Chemical's spiraling costs are "forcing difficult discussions with customers," he said.
The price increases will take effect Sunday and will be based on a product's exposure to rising costs.
Dow Chemical said it spent $8-billion on energy and hydrocarbon-based raw materials in 2002 and that could climb fourfold to $32-billion this year.
The Midland, Mich., company supplies a broad swath of industries, from agriculture to health care, and any sizable price jumps would likely affect almost all of them.
Crude oil prices surpassed $135 a barrel last week, more than double the price from a year ago. Rising energy and transportation costs have been blamed for higher food prices, which rose 5 percent last year, the highest gain in 17 years.
Both Democrats and Republicans have agreed on long-term plans to increase the use of renewable fuels and reduce consumption as the means for limiting U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But many Republicans also want to increase domestic petroleum and natural gas production through expanded offshore drilling, as well as in Alaska and elsewhere to aid that process in the near-term.