We were told back in January that 2014 was to be the year of lower gasoline prices. The American Automobile Association and GasBuddy.com both attributed that to an increase in domestic oil production, more fuel-efficient cars and less demand. Look for this year’s average price in Ohio to fall between $3.15 and $3.40 per gallon, they said.
Well, we’re still looking and we don’t like what we see.
Around Lima at noon Tuesday, prices were shooting up anywhere from $3.48 a gallon to $3.79 in just a matter of hours.
Blame it on the “summer blend,” we are being told. More than 130 refineries nationwide, including Husky in Lima, needed to make their more expensive summer blends available by May 1, which means higher prices in the spring.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The summer gasoline requirement was a critical part of the Clean Air Act approved with overwhelming support by Congress and signed into law by President George H. Bush in 1990. At the time, the three major environmental threats were acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions.
How important is that?
“ Just think back to the air pollution we all saw during the Beijing Olympics of 2008… that’s what some of our cities might look like if we didn’t have these regulations,” said Patrick DeHaan, the senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com.
We get that. What we find harder to accept are all the sharp swings in prices.
Jamal Kheiry, spokesman for Marathon Petroleum Corp., based in Findlay, said the price moves in the Midwest are influenced by many factors, including the price of crude oil.
“The retail gas market is extremely competitive,” he said. “You have different factors and costs and it could be any number of those factors.”
That’s frustrating for consumers, who keep hearing the United States is producing more oil than ever, yet the benefits of that fail to show up at the gas pump.
Ohioans at least have one thing going in our favor. We are paying less in fuel taxes than our neighboring states. Including the 18.4 cent per gallon federal excise tax, Ohioans pay 46.4 cents in tax per gallon. That compares to Pennsylvania (60.2 cents), Michigan (57.7 cents), Indiana (56.6 cents), West Virginia (53.1 cents) and Kentucky (50.7 cents).
Still, that prediction of gasoline averaging between $3.15 and $3.40 a gallon this year seems like a dream.