Monthly Archives: March 2013

Gas Prices Still Falling, Except In Midwest. Oil Futures Heading Higher.

Gas pump icon

Weekly gas price survey

Gasoline prices across the United States continued their downward slide for the fourth consecutive week this week, according to the latest weekly EIA gas price survey. However, the Midwest bucked the trend of lower gasoline prices, just as happened last week, as reflected in the March 18 survey. The average price for a gallon of gas will set drivers back about $3.68, on average, although the prices are considerably higher on the West Coast of the U.S., where the avarage price for a gallon of regular unleaded is running just under $4.00. The cheapest gas was to be found in the Rocky Mountains the Gulf Coast. In the mountain regions, the price of gas was about $3.47, compared with about $3.50 in states along the Gulf of Mexico.

As we reported last week, the Midwest’s trend of higher prices could be an indicator of the coming trends for other U.S. regions, and the continued climb in oil futures prices would tend to lend credence to that argument. The price of oil futures, which spiked in late January and throughout February, drifted very low at the end of February and beginning of March. However, for the past two weeks, the price of crude oil has been on the uptick, although prices were unchangted today. However, futures of Brent light sweet crude were up $0.52 today.

CNBC Oil Futures trend chart.

Crude oil futures took a nosedive in late February, contributing to March’s lower gas prices; however, the futures trades are trending higher again. Chart courtesy of

For truckers, the news was a little better across the board. On average, diesel prices were off by about 4¢ per gallon across the United States, with prices along the Gulf and West Coasts dropping by as much as 6¢ per gallon.


Three Weeks Is A Charmer! Gas Prices Fall Again, But Is That About To Change?

Gas pump icon

Weekly gas price survey

Drivers across most states have enjoyed three consecutive weeks of declines in gas prices, according to the latest survey released from the Energy Informtion Administration; however, the Midwestern U.S. witnessed an increase in gas prices during the past week. While the Midwestern increase in fuel costs was moderate, about three cents per gallon, the price of fuel across the American Heartland is has been a seasonal indicator of where all U.S. gas prices are likely to trend  within the next one to two weeks. In other words, the cost relief drivers and truckers have had during March may be about to end.

For the moment, however, the March decline in the cost for a gallon of gas has been well timed to help students on Spring Break, many of whom are traveling to warmer climates to escape colder conditions in the northern states. In fact, Prices across the Lower Atlantic  and Gulf Coast states were among the lowest in the nation, although the Rocky Mountain region enjoyed the absolute lowest average per-gallon cost on regular unleaded.

Diesel fuel pump icon

Weekly diesel price survey

Meanwhile, the transportation and freight industries were enjoying the declines in fuel costs, with diesel fuel continuing to fall in price in all regions of the U.S. On average, the price of a gallon of diesel was down about four cents per gallon during the past week.

Regardless of what the price increase in the Midwest may portend, the overall price of gas, nationwide, is down considerably from a year ago, with average per-gallon costs lower by just over 17-cents per gallon for gasoline, and diesel prices down by nationwide average of about 10-cents per gallon.


Eight People Charged With Crimes Relating To Pennsylvania Turnpike Contracts

Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority

PTA headquarters building in Harrisburg, Pennslvyania, as seen from the westbound lanes near Exit 247.

A former leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate and seven other people have been charged with crimes related to vendor contracts and other key relationship contracts with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The eight are charged with a variety of crimes, including conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid rigging, theft and conflict of interest. The charges and investigation were unveiled March 13 in Harrisburg, the home of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority’s main offices, which can be seen from the turnpike, itself. One of the people charged in the long-running investigation and criminal case is from Florida, although there was no indication any of the criminal activity was related to Florida’s Turnpike.

The defendants include former Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow, the former chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Mitchell Rubin, and the former chief executive of the Penna Turnpike, Joe Brimmeier. Raymond Zajicek of Tarpon Springs, Florida, was the the only person charged who was not from Pennsylvania. The remaining defendants include two turnpike vendors, Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski, and two other former turnpike officials: George Hatalowich, Melvin Shelton. Mr. Zajicek, of Florida, was also once a turnpike official in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said the defendants’ indictments were the result of a long-running probe dating to 2009. Kane was quoted in the Associated Press as saying, “The public has lost untold millions of dollars. The greatest improper influence was exerted over the turnpike’s procurement process.”

Indeed, the way the turnpike chose vendors may have been directed by the former Senate Democratic Leader. Kane said a grand jury found “substantial evidence” Mr. Mellow had directed at least one aide to help political contributors get contracts for work on the turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission released a statement calling the charges indefensible. “If charges against former [Pennsylvania] Turnpike employees are proven,” the statement reads, “we certainly cannot … defend that.

“Without a doubt, the commission remains committed to continuing our efforts to improve the accountability and operations of the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” the statement continues.

Drivers in Pennsylvania who commented on the news story, at least on the Internet, were quite mixed. One man said he would protest “as a statement against corruption” by staying off the turnpike.

Others offered positive feedback about the diligence of the attorney general’s office in helping expose the alleged criminal activity.


Gas Prices Dip Slightly As Spring Break Drivers Hit The Road

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Weekly gas price survey

Gas prices continued their declines into a second week this week as millions more college and university students hit the road for Spring Break, with the largest number of vacationers taking off from major universities during this week and the next two weeks. According to the weekly survey from the Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of gas dropped by about a nickel, but the declines were much higher across the Midwest, where winter prices had suffered their greatest increases during January and February. Only the U.S. West Coast suffered a hike in prices, with average per-gallon costs for gasoline driving upward by about a penny.

March 11, 2013 gas prices

In most U.S. regions, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded is below $4.00 per gallon, although in some areas, just  barely.

The weekly declines mark the second time prices have gone down in as many weeks, and declines have now reached the point that prices, overall, are down from last year at this time. Year over year fuel costs have dropped by as much as 19-cents per gallon in some spots, with the average March gas price being about 12-cents per gallon this year, versus the same week in 2012.

Diesel fuel costs also continued their weekly downward trend, although the declines were not as steep as gas prices. Average prices-per-gallon for diesel dropped by about four-cents nationwide, while across New England down to the Carolinas the average price was down about six-cents per gallon.

Diesel fuel pump icon

Weekly diesel price survey

Like gasoline, diesel prices are now less than they were at this time last year, although the greatest  year-over-year decline were to be found on the West Coast, where prices were down over 19-cents per gallon, versus the same survey period in 2012.

Still, the declines in gas prices are not yet enough to make up for the Winter pricing hikes that drivers suffered during January and February. Overall, average U.S. prices for a gallon of gas are up about 40-cents per gallon since the beginning of 2013.


Does A Spring Break From Gas Prices Loom?

Gas pump icon

Weekly gas price survey

March usually means the arrival of Spring Break, but it could also herald a momentary break from those continually rising gas prices, according to the latest gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For the first time in several weeks, the average per-gallon cost of a gallon of gas actually declined, although there was no such relief in the Rocky Mountain states or the U.S. West Coast.

Still, the week-over-week dip in fuel costs could not have come at a better time for many living along the Eastern seaboard and in the Midwestern states, where blasts of cold air have pushed up energy consumption. The average price for a gallon of gas dropped by about 2 ½-cents per gallon, but prices fell by nearly twice that rate on the Gulf Coast and Lower Atlantic States.

Diesel fuel pump icon

Weekly diesel price survey

The relief was extended to truckers and fleet drivers, too, as diesel fuel prcies dropped about 3¢ per gallon during the past week. In an extra line of good news, the price declines affected all regions of the United States, unlike regular petroleum prices.


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