The Los Angeles Times on Friday printed a story lamenting the arrival of $4 per gallon gasoline in the Southland.
Welcome to Del Norte's world. Up here in the Northland, regular was selling for $4.19 at brand-name stations in Crescent City on Monday - one was actually asking $4.29.
The Times story was based on those daily AAA surveys, which have lately been giving the North Coast a dubious distinction: home of the most expensive gasoline in the continental United States.
Eureka is the closest city surveyed, but since Del Norte's fuel is
typically the same price - sometimes slightly higher - you get the idea.
So maybe the results of the Triplicate's latest online poll aren't
that surprising. As of Monday, 342 respondents (70.8 percent) said they
live in Del Norte but buy their gas in Oregon, while 141 (29.2 percent)
said they stay in their home county to fuel up.
Obviously the buy-local sentiment doesn't seem to apply here. Then
again, Brookings is only 26 miles from Crescent City, so maybe when it
comes to gas we're all willing to broaden our definition of "local."
Pump prices everywhere gyrate with the shifting global economics, and
the latest surge may be due more to what's up in Iran than on Highway
Still, a certain amount of mystery surrounds the high prices on the
North Coast. Distributors will tell you it's more expensive to get the
product to our remote location (gotta fuel up those fuel trucks, and
diesel ain't cheap either).
We also lack the level of competition that can drive prices lower.
Last month the Triplicate did its own survey, checking prices along 101
throughout Del Norte and Humboldt. Almost every brand-name station
advertised the same per-gallon cost for regular, and every off-brand
station seemed to be knocking exactly 3 cents per gallon off that price.
Obviously, they all look around at the "competition" and price
accordingly. Meanwhile, Del Norters likely look around at their fellow
Californians while gassing up in Brookings.
If you're running on empty and you've got the time to spare, the trip
north for significantly cheaper fuel (and, let's face it, perhaps other
stops in a state with no sales tax) is obviously worth the expense.
Taxes and environmental standards only seem to explain part of the
disparity. While the Golden State levies an average of 67 cents per
gallon in taxes, Oregon levies 49.5 cents. And fuel sold here has to
meet stricter environmental standards than across the border - the only
exception being gas sold at California tribal stations. Still, when the
Triplicate checked last month, one tribal station in Del Norte was
selling gas for just 6 cents per gallon less than the brand-name
So if the tax disparity is 17.5 cents per gallon, and the
environmental standards tack on just 6 more cents per gallon, why was
brand-name gas in Brookings 55 cents per gallon cheaper than in Del
Norte or Humboldt at the time of the Triplicate's survey?
That's a question to ponder at the pump, whatever side of the state line you're on.