Utah gas prices 10th highest in the nation

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Ryan Freeman, a senior studying English, fills up his car with compressed natural gas. Freeman uses it because of how cheap it is compared to regular gasoline; he filled up is car for $7.96. (Frank Young)
Ryan Freeman, a senior studying English, fills up his car with compressed natural gas. Freeman uses it because of how cheap it is compared to regular gasoline; he filled up is car for $7.96. (Frank Young)

Utah gas prices have been above the national average since June of this year, even as gas prices around the nation plummet.

“Low demand combined with abundant supply has kept downward pressure on global oil prices,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris in a news release. “With the increasing growth of oil production in the United States, the switch-over to a winter blend gasoline, and reduced consumption of fuel by consumers, gas prices this year have remained low and could continue to drop as we approach the holiday season. That would be welcome news for travelers.”

The national average on Nov. 13 was $2.91; however, Utah’s average was $3.12, a difference of more than 20 cents per gallon, according to AAA’s fuel gauge report.

Rolayne Fairclough, with AAA, said one reason Utah gas prices are higher than the national average is transportation costs.

“Utah is landlocked, with no navigable rivers or coastlines which allow easier import of oil for refinement,” Fairclough said. “Nor does Utah have an effective highway system for delivery.”

States along the Gulf of Mexico have the lowest prices in gasoline because of coastlines and roadways allowing for transportation costs to be lower.

Aside from transportation costs, Utah gas prices are high because of the fuel tax tacked onto the price of the oil.

“The gas tax has two parts,” said former House Speaker Becky Lockhart in an email. “A federal portion of 18.4 cents per gallon and a state portion of 24.5 cents per gallon. The federal portion is remitted to the Feds to dole out by Congress as they see fit, usually based on formulas of some kind.”

She said 30 percent of the 24.5 cents is given to counties and cities for local needs, and the rest is kept by the state to address needs on a state level.

Utah’s current gas price puts it in the top 10 most expensive states in the country. Hawaii has the highest average in the United States at $3.97 per gallon. In the continental states, New York has the highest average price per gallon at $3.27, contrasting with the nation’s lowest in South Carolina at $2.67 per gallon.

One BYU student, Andrew Willmore, said he combines trips throughout the week and still spends about $70 a month on gas.

Since mid-June, Utah gas prices have been higher than the national average and have remained as such. With winter months approaching gas prices in Utah will continue to dip. (Courtesy of AAA fuel gage report)
Since mid-June, Utah gas prices have been higher than the national average and have remained as such. With winter months approaching gas prices in Utah will continue to dip. (AAA fuel gage report)

However, other students have found ways to save on money when filling up by driving cars that don’t totally rely on gasoline. Sean Rooney, a public health major from Palecentia, California, drives a Honda Insight Hybrid, which gets 44 miles per gallon highway driving, according to Honda. Rooney said he filled up his tank earlier this week for only $28.

“Gas in Utah is a lot cheaper than gas in California,” Rooney said. “The other weekend I drove home and noticed the difference was about 10 cents a gallon.”

Ryan Freeman, a senior studying English, commutes daily from Springville for school and work and fills his specially equipped car up with compressed natural gas (CNG), which costs $1.76 a gallon.

“It costs less than $10 to fill up,” Freeman said. “I can switch between CNG and regular gasoline when I want to, but I prefer to use CNG because it’s a lot cheaper than regular gas.”

Aside from driving a more fuel-efficient car, Fairclough said utilizing membership offers at certain gas stations, such as Maverik and Chevron, can be a great way to save money at the pump. The Maverik card can save drivers anywhere from two to six cents per gallon, depending on the program, and Chevron gas card users can earn up to 20 cents of credit per gallon at the pump.

Fairclough also said to make sure a vehicle is properly maintained. She said the easiest thing to check is tire pressure.

“It’s like trying to ride a bike with low tire pressure; it takes more work,” she said. “Maintaining appropriate air pressure will help your car run more effectively, causing it to burn less gas.”

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