Photo by Jennifer L. Grubbs

Pumping the economy dry

State Senate candidates eye local gas prices

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Local gas gauge

Regular unleaded and diesel prices, per gallon, as of Wednesday

Sinclair, 666 W. First St.

• Unleaded: $3.88

• Diesel: $4.20

Conoco, 140 W. Victory Way

• Unleaded: $3.88

• Diesel: $4.35

Loaf 'N Jug, 2441 W. Victory Way

• Unleaded: $3.92

• Diesel: $4.34

Kum & Go, 1302 W. Victory Way

• Unleaded: $3.92

• Diesel: $4.34

Kum & Go, 895 Yampa Ave.

• Unleaded: $3.92

• Diesel: $4.34

Kum & Go, 700 E. Victory Way

• Unleaded: $3.92

• Diesel: $4.34

Gofer Foods (Conoco), 923 E. Victory Way

• Unleaded: $3.92

• Diesel: $4.34

Petrowest, 301 School Road

• Unleaded: $3.97

• Diesel: $4.31

Trevco, 702 Industrial Ave.

• Unleaded: $4.10

• Diesel: $4.45

Average Colorado prices

• Regular unleaded: $3.58

• Diesel: $4.15

Average national prices

• Regular unleaded: $3.61

• Diesel: $4.08

Both candidates for state Senate District 8 have taken up gas prices as an issue for Northwest Colorado residents.

Both have been sufficiently moved by price differences throughout the region to determine if some action is necessary.

Democratic candidate Ken Brenner first brought up the issue in August.

At the time, he said the "significant" price differences between communities in the same region - such as gas being 20 cents more in Craig than Steamboat Springs and 50 cents more in Glenwood Springs than in Grand Junction - seemed too large to attribute to the free market alone.

Brenner has said the state needs to be aware of what Northwest Colorado consumers pay for gas and take any action that's necessary. If elected, Brenner would make the issue a priority, perhaps convening a legislative committee to examine regional prices or pass consumer protection statutes, if warranted.

At first, Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, said he dismissed the idea of "pricing irregularities" at local gas stations because it seemed like there were too many retailers to coordinate such a scheme.

However, White - Republican candidate for Senate District 8 - sent a letter Tuesday to the Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and asked the state's highest law enforcement official to investigate.

"I believe there are irregularities in pricing that simply cannot be accounted for through the variables of the free market, and that, as a result, the consumers in those counties are being unfairly preyed upon by potentially unscrupulous gasoline distributors," White stated in his letter.

White makes a distinction between gas retailers and gas distributors.

There are too many retailers in the area for any cooperation in "pricing collusion" to be very feasible, he said.

However, a constituent recently told White that a small number of wholesale gas distributors deliver fuel to all stations in the area.

It could not be determined by press time how many gasoline distributors operate in Moffat County or on the Western Slope. However, the Colorado Department of Revenue reported there are 418 "wholesale fuel distributors" now operating across Colorado.

White wants the state to look into the distributors, he said, and see if they are manipulating the markets within different communities.

"That's what I want the attorney general to figure out," White said.

Although both candidates feel prices need to be examined, they have different views on what course of action should be taken if improprieties surface.

White cautioned that the Legislature's involvement, which Brenner has introduced as an option, would be a dangerous course of action.

The Legislature doesn't "investigate those kinds of issues," White said. "That is the purview of the attorney general. I think any legislative fix to set the price of gasoline is a huge mistake. The free market sets the best price."

If free market activities have driven up prices - which White said is a possibility - the state representative said he would encourage added competition.

"It'd be great to have some competition in our market," White said, adding he has made calls to City Market and Safeway and asked if they could bring their own gas pumps to Western Slope stores.

"I think they're favorable to it," White said. "It would put a downward pressure on our market."

Fred Hudson, who manages the Safeway in Craig, has said his store is investigating whether gas pumps would be feasible.

Brenner said he is surprised to hear White take up the cause he introduced in August.

"I was glad to hear my opponent is taking this seriously," Brenner said. "This is something that's been going on for a long time. I think it seems a little more than disingenuous to support this a month before an election."

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

Comments

taxslave 6 years, 2 months ago

blah blah blah

Politicians are the problem...bad legislation, etc. There is no free market going on. The FEDS artificially control the interest rate.....what's free about that?

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taxslave 6 years, 2 months ago

The "blah blah" refers to the politicians...not the author.

btw, nice pictures of Fall in paper, good job CDP

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Craig_gal 6 years, 2 months ago

actually, instead of blah blah blah. Can we say "DUH!!!!!" really were getting hosed?, possible price variables? wow.

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papa_don 6 years, 2 months ago

It is very strange how after this article comes out the gas prices in Craig start falling drastically! Craig is typically $.10 to $.20 higher than Steamboat. Now they are $.05 to $.10 lower than Steamboat. Yeah, No price fixing or collusion here!

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lonelyone 6 years, 2 months ago

I know, Papa, it is pretty funny huh?!?!? Baggs is 3.339.......I think that is what I saw this afternoon!

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

lonely--Each state sets it's own tax rate on gas and diesel. There is a federal tax of $0.184 on all gas. Colorado tax--on top of that--is $0.22 on gas and $0.205 on diesel. Wyoming has a $0.14 tax on gas and diesel. That is why they are consistantly lower than we are. The lowest place we bought fuel this summer was in Cheyenne, Wy. Colorado had the highest fuel costs we found this summer. It's that way every year. Google "states gas tax" and you will see what each state has for fuel taxes.

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Ray Cartwright 6 years, 2 months ago

That is why Over the Road Truckers fill up just before they enter the State Of Colorado so they don't have to purchase any in the State and can use the State Highways without paying anything for it. Good thing we have that high tax so the eastern slope can keep working on their roads to keep them in top notch condition.

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lonelyone 6 years, 2 months ago

Grannyr, I know your right on Colorado tax versus Wyoming, but still I like to mention their prices so if a person wants to take a drive they know that gas is so much cheaper..........at times, in Baggs. Remember at one point mcnative or someone? would talk about driving up there for gas and someone else would mention the cost in Steamboat? I'm still just trying to give people some info. Infact if you want to go to AZ, Phoenix is 3.189!!!........lol

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

We used to go to Baggs and take several gas cans to get fuel. If you buy enough, you could save money. It really makes me mad that Craig has consistantly had higher fuel prices than anywhere else. Just because of transportation costs? I would go to Leadville, and fuel was quite a bit cheaper there. They don't have transportation costs? Poor excuse to rob the people in Craig!

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papa_don 6 years, 2 months ago

One last comment on gas pricing in Craig America, I took a short trip this weekend to Rifle and New Castle area, and lo and behold! every gas station I passed was at $3.79. a couple were at $3.76. What? Now all of a sudden the transportation costs of fuel are the same? And as for the comments I've heard about our choice of driving large trucks and SUV's, I would sure like to see a two wheel drive KIA pull a horse trailer or a tractor out of the mud in our fields.

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