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Change doesn’t come easy in gasoline prices

Where we stand

July 29, 2012
The Mining Journal

The Mining Journal continues to monitor the price of gas in our area. A couple of things have happened in the last couple of weeks. We have seen the price of gas in Marquette getting closer to the price of gas in Escanaba and Iron Mountain. This is good news, because this was one of our main concerns.

The price of gas has consistently been 10- to 15-cents per gallon less in Escanaba and Iron Mountain than it has been in Marquette. Houghton usually was running 15 cents to 25 cents per gallon less than Marquette.

We have repeatedly asked the Michigan Petroleum Association and also local gas station owners why gas is so much cheaper in Houghton. No one will answer our question. We have been told in the past that transportation costs are why gas is more expensive in Marquette than Iron Mountain and Escanaba. If that is true, how can it be that Houghton, which is the farthest away from Green Bay gas terminals where our gas comes from, has the cheapest gas by far?

Last Friday, we had a local gas station owner come in to visit with us and we asked him during that meeting why the price of gas had gone up from $3.59 to $3.74 per gallon on Friday. His answer was he didn't know why. We asked him if he raised his price to $3.74 and he said yes.

When we asked him why he raised his prices, he said it was because the other stations had done it. The problem is in the Marquette area: most stations match each other's prices instead of acting independently.

We assumed gas stations would justify raising their prices last Friday because of the break in a gas pipeline in Wisconsin. What was unbelievable, and troubling, to us was that the local gas station owner said he didn't know about the pipeline break, but he still raised his prices. We told him during the meeting about the pipeline break.

We would like to see gas stations set their prices based on what they paid for delivery of the gas in their storage tanks, not what they feel like they can get away with charging.

We were happy to see that some stations kept their prices at $3.59 per gallon through the weekend instead of raising their prices just because everyone else did. If we had more gas stations thinking independently like this, we would not consistently have the highest price for gas in the state of Michigan.

The stations that are boycotting The Mining Journal are listed in the ads that run in The Mining Journal several times a week.

We will continue to monitor the price of gas in our area. We hope that Marquette stations will be more competitive on pricing and we hope local prices continue to move closer to the prices charged in Escanaba, Iron Mountain and Houghton.

If that happens, we will be pleased to thank local gas stations for being more competitive. We will also be grateful if Marquette is not consistently listed by AAA as the highest price of gas in the state.

Remember, you do have a voice in the price of gas in Marquette by making a decision about where you buy your gas. Residents may wish to consider contacting two local distributors - Citgo and Oasis - to voice their opinions.



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