Everyone Getting Screwed by Gas Prices (including station owners?)
By JoshMogerman in News on May 22, 2011 6:00PM
"R.I.P. Gas For Less" [bungalow_phil]
The Trib picked up an interesting CNN Money story about increasing complaints on the East coast from gas station owners who believe they are being thrown under the public opinion bus by greedy gasoline suppliers who are manipulating prices. The complaints boil down to response time around gasoline distributor price changes. The distributors are quick to jack up the price they charge filling stations due to fluctuating costs from refineries. But they are extremely slow in bringing the price they charge back down, effectively forcing pump prices in their distribution areas artificially high. CNN notes that the upward price movement happens almost automatically, while the downward movement only occurs after a six-day lag -- and in some places, as much as a 20-day delay before that increased profit margin budges downward. Various state authorities and the new national Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working group (who knew this even existed?) are looking into the issue, though it is sometimes hard to tell whether this is just political theater or a sign of demonstrable wrongdoing.
Closer to home, where gas prices remain some of the highest in the nation, the same issues are at play; though high City, County and State taxes keep the price to fill your tank from ever really tanking. Add in the seasonal switch to specially formulated summer gasoline to manage Chicago’s chronic smog and air pollution issues and you have a pricing mess that seems to get investigated every year around this time. Mayor Emanuel has noted concern about the gas price drag on the local economy, but there is not much he can do about the issue directly. We hope he can get CTA back on its feet quickly and push for robust electric vehicle infrastructure so that we all have good alternatives to the pump mess soon. Since we are all stuck on this earthly plane, that would be a nice runner-up prize to the rapture...