It seems to have become a major campaign issue – who is to blame for the high gasoline prices. Why hasn’t the president done more to lower them? Why hasn’t Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican challenger this fall, outlined a specific plan to bring the prices down? Drill more? Build more pipelines?
With the most recent report by Kansasgasbuddy.com, it is clear the price of gas has caught the experts off guard. GasBuddy forecast back in January that the national average would peak between $3.75-$4.15 per gallon as the nation entered its summer driving season. Instead, the average has decreased 15.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.4 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.
The national average that has fallen 3.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.65. The average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have fallen 3.9 cents per gallon in the past week. Kansasgasprices.com reported this week the cost averaged $3.39 per gallon Monday.
Whew! Don’t we all feel better now. We can all gas up and take those vacations we’ve been dreaming about and planning all winter. After all, the gas gods and the oil companies have done us a favor by keeping the prices low.
Oops. Not low. Lower, maybe.
You see, gasoline prices are like a yo-yo or one of those big bouncy balls. Sort of. They go up and down, but, when they drop, they never bottom out as low as they once were.
So, sure, we are seeing gas prices lower that we expected. But, are they really a bargain?
Politicians don’t set pump costs. And, ask any filling station owner who spends time changing the digits on a sign and they will say they are lucky to make a few cents per gallon they sell.
The prices are set by a complex formula involving the many players in the gasoline production business – from the farmer whose ground the oil comes from to the pumper to the refinery to the convenience store. There may even be a weegie board and witch doctors dancing around a bonfire involved.
This isn’t written to explain this process, merely to suggest we control what we can. We must always be watching that price locally and around us and hold producers accountable. It may seem the oil companies have us by the throat. But, it is us who decides to whether to buy gas or not.
Conserve. Car pool. Walk. Ride a bike. Plan vacations carefully.
We can send a message.