Editorial: Get pumped up

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Call them.

They won't answer. Or at least they shouldn't.

Phone the gas stations in Craig and ask what their gasoline prices are.

As one person said, "I don't give that out over the phone. Our prices are listed on the pump."

To be fair, after being grilled about why we wanted the gas price, a couple of people did tell us, showing some home-town hospitality -- which many of our gas stations are well-versed in. But, we also were told it goes against company policy to release that information.

Why so much secrecy about the cost at the pump?

One possible reason gas prices cannot be given out over the phone is because a competitor could be on the line, and when competitors begin talking about prices, a conclusion could be collusion is occurring. It is a valid argument, and may very well be true.

However, there is a dissonant, more popular opinion in town that has been voiced.

For years, residents have speculated price gouging is occurring in Craig. A person can travel 40 miles to Steamboat or 40 miles to Baggs and pay less than in the Bulldog city -- sometimes much less.

On Friday, six of seven Craig gas stations were charging $2.59 for unleaded gasoline. Less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 26, that price was $2.49, which was 17 cents higher than the state average at the time, and 14 cents higher than the national average. A month ago, the state average was $2.13, and the national average was $2.18.

We are literally watching gas prices go up at twice the rate of the temperature, and it should only get worse as the weather gets warmer. And with Craig's current set up, that means higher prices at the pump for locals.

Why are gas prices in Craig so high compared to other areas if not for price gouging or collusion?

According to Eric Escudero, AAA of Colorado public relations manager, that issues lies in location and competition.

"The prices will be higher in some areas because it costs more to ship," he said. "And in Glenwood Springs, Vail or Craig, there isn't as much competition."

That latter reason, the editorial believes, is Craig's biggest issue.

A possible answer: Call out gas companies on their prices by calling Wal-Mart, City Market and/or Safeway and encouraging the chain stores to bring gas pumps to town.

This town needs the competition for the consumer's sake.

Call them.

And if the chain stores do bring pumps to town, we will see how everyone answers.

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