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Reasons for N.C.'s high gas prices not so simple

Posted October 13, 2008
Updated October 14, 2008

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— North Carolina has the third highest fuel costs in the nation because the state relies primarily on one pipeline that services at least eight other states, industry experts say.

And while that pipeline, operated by the Colonial Pipeline Co., is back up and running, AAA Carolinas says it still is not carrying enough gasoline to meet consumer demand. Fifty-five oil wells were damaged because of Hurricane Ike, and a large ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas, is still out of order.

Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas spokesman, said the state, unlike many others, has few alternative fuel sources. Gasoline can come in through the port at Wilmington, he said, but that is not a major source.

Panic pumping before Hurricane Ike pounded the Texas coast last month and retailers' anxiety that they will run out of gas too soon are also factors that are driving prices high.

Gary Harris, executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, said North Carolina drivers seemed to panic more than those in other states, but he could not say why.

AAA Carolinas says the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas is $3.50 per gallon in North Carolina (the average in Raleigh is $3.62), 29 cents above the national average. The only states averaging more per gallon are Hawaii at $3.98 and Alaska at $4.08.

Some also point to North Carolina's gas taxes, the sixth highest gas taxes in the country and the highest in the Southeast. However, North Carolina State University Economist Mike Walden says high gas taxes may be helping keep our local property taxes lower.

Most states rely on a mix of local and state taxes to pay for roads, but North Carolina finances 90 percent from the state gas tax.

Prices in the Raleigh metropolitan area could be higher, AAA Carolina added, because the area could have a larger number of independent retailers who are still recovering gas supplies.

Both groups say they believe the statewide average should continue to drop each day as the state's inventory continues to build over the next few weeks.

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  • eviltwinbob Oct 14, 2008

    This is a load of bull. The governement and big oil are injoying a large increase in their profits as we, the consummer are suffering from their greed. When oil goes up $2.00 a barrel, the price of gas soars .25 cents per gallon. When it goes down to half iots previous price, all we get is excuses on why our gas is still in the $3.00 range. I am tired of this. Are you? Vote out anyone that is currently in office. If they are leaving already, then vote out their party. Maybe this election will set a tone that politicians owe their very jobs to the people that they look down upon. Look and watch to see if one politician attempts to get the fuel prices lower than they are now. If no one steps up, get rid of them. Unless you enjoy being screwed by them. Personally, I am tired of it.

  • manofjustice Oct 14, 2008

    I don't agree with this story. I will just wait until Obama become president to set this world straight.

  • rc4nc Oct 14, 2008

    It's called government for a reason. This is the second time a hurricane has caused economic trauma to NCs gas supplies. I'm sure the good offices of the Governor & Legislature could mandate a 30 day reserve supply to be stored in state. This "Just in time" supply scheme has failed all except those who profit unfairly from it.

  • 007KnightRider Oct 14, 2008

    These are no experts NC's high gas has absolutely nothing to do with the pipeline common sense people. Roy Cooper knows this and now he doesn't want to work to subpoenas these business yet, he was hard at work a month ago determined to issue fines across NC after Hurricane Ike. I guess the current situation is too overbearing and he now wants to vanish all of a sudden.

  • fletchermse Oct 14, 2008

    I wonder where last week's golo experts are who said this situation was completely artificially manufactured by the oil companies to solely keep NC's gas prices high...

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 14, 2008

    qgirl232, so you tell us that you're a "less government conservative" but you WANT government intrusion here...so they come to our (your?) rescue and tell businesses what to do with regards to their profit margins? Maybe you're seeing what we lefties see...that gov't can play a role in our lives, but I would not want them dictating profit margins this way. We need to have freedom of choice.

    You could just open your own gas station, price your gas 60 cents lower than avg and make some big bucks. Sounds easy, right?

    If I may ask one thing... Please consider dropping your "less government" mantra, unless you also stop intruding on Americans in the most personal of ways: tell us how to live (e.g. Blue Laws), wire tapping phones without warrant, who we can love and marry, what we can and cannot do with our OWN bodies, etc. Thanks. :-)

  • ashewing Oct 14, 2008

    It might drop some soon - nothing to do with the pipeline, this is such a crock - BUT it WILL increase after the election. WATCH!!

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Oct 14, 2008

    This story broaches an interesting sideline that wral should go after. what will the state do for tax money if cars become either twice as fuel efficient or use no gas at all. it seems that with so much revenue coming in that our other taxes are going to skyrocket. also since the state is using that money for other things besides roads are we going to get stories about how people are starving etc because tax revenue is down. it's like water, buy less, pay more cause we can't do with less.

  • sixnitepkg Oct 14, 2008

    thinkchick - NC's gas taxes are about 10 CENTS more per gallon than SC or VA - this IS NOT about taxes... this is price fixing and price gouging on a scale with California's rigged "electical shortage" a few years ago... Mr. Cooper needs to get off his backside and file suit against every oil company in the country... they are robbing the people of NC!

  • ladyblue Oct 14, 2008

    Then find a closer pipe line to pump our fuel. Why can't Alaska come straight dwon the lline instead of making them pump across country to the gulf states. Use the nogging. It's not suppose to be a head ornament.

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