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Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in Blog, What's Left | 5 comments

Gasoline at $6 a Gallon? It’s Here (Almost)

Death Valley Gas 

In a scene right out of Mad Max, some places are now charging $5.90 a gallon for unleaded.  The premium fuel has actually hit six bucks.



Where is this?  Some remote whaling village in Norway?  No, it’s right here in the USA.

Here’s a snapshot of the sign out in front of the Chevron station in Shoshone, California — which is located close to Death Valley.  Admittedly, this is a tough place to reach.  So, gas is going to cost a little more in out-of-the-way places where it simply costs more money to transport fuel from the producer to the consumer.

But a 50 percent markup from the national average of just under $4 a gallon?  (Note:  This sign and price were not unusual — other stations in the area had similar prices per gallon).

Might this be a conspiracy?

Let’s agree that it costs significantly more to truck gasoline to remote parts of the country, such as Death Valley.  I’m not sure precisely how much more it takes to drive a tanker from a fuel hub such as Los Angeles, which is 200 miles west.  But let’s concede that it costs more.

I wonder — does it cost any more to transport fuel out to the desert than, let’s say, to a small town in the hills of Tennessee, where the same gallon of unleaded gas now costs $3,89 a gallon?

Someone, please explain this to me.  $5.90 a gallon in Shoshone….$3.89 a gallon in Gatlinburg.

Roughly the same geography from refineries and tankers, and the same reliance on overland transport.  Shouldn’t the high desert in California and the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee have roughly the same gas prices?

Again, please educate me.

Moreover, Id like to know that if indeed it’s more difficult to move goods to the consumer to a place like Shoshone, then why aren’t the other products also marked up significantly?  A coke that costs $1 in Los Angeles is not priced at $1.50 in Shoshone.  In fact, it’s the same $1.  A candy bar that costs 60 cents elsewhere is also 60 cents here.  Same with just about everything — except gasoline.

When people in one part of the country are forced to pay a 50 percent markup on a product that is widely available in similar regions at a substantially lower cost, something is very wrong.

I have a solution:  I hope the day comes when this nation nationalizes the oil industry.  Seize them all.  Acquire all their assets.  Take them over in the public interest and damn all the greedy shareholders who are caught holding an empty bag.

But all this pales in comparison to my final inquiry.  Alas, I’ve saved the biggest question for last.  Take a close look at that sign again.  Look carefully.

I wonder — can’t the idiot who runs the Chevron gas station afford some legitimate signage, rather than using black electrician’s tape?  I mean, the criminal oil company and the service station are raping consumers to the tune of $6 a gallon.  And the sign looks like a fucking lemonade stand?


  1. “I have a solution: I hope the day comes when this nation nationalizes the oil industry.”

    Really, Nolan? Is it ever better when the government runs something? Anything? They might make it fair, and charge everybody the same price, I admit. But instead of $4 and $6 being charged unfairly, it will be $12 for everybody. And the profit from that extra charge won’t be a tax that pays for other stuff. It will get wasted in bureaucracy or graft or pork, nothing that will improve people’s lives, you can be sure of that (unless you’re the guy getting the pork or graft).

    • It’s a fair debate, Greg.

      For many years, public utilities were essentially government run and most Ameiricans enjoyed low cost water and electricity. Now that these sectors have been privatized, middlemen like Enron have stepped in and prices have skyrocketed.

      Moreoever, nations where oil companies were nationalized tend to have significnatly lower fuel costs (not always, but generally).

      — ND

    • The Government is bad crowd continually amazes me. In the face of all the Corporate corruption in privatized and /or deregulated industries, to still bemoan the big bad government is the essence of naivete in the least and more blind, mindless ideology at the worst. There is no evidence of price gouging anywhere by government(taxes not included) but it is virtually everywhere in the Corporate world. $12 plucked from thin air. It all does deserve thoughtful debate, not ideological saber rattling at our expense.

  2. The reason we here in Cal. are paying more than the average is government requirements for special blends to help air quality. We as a nation need to get away from oil for more of our energy needs. Burning oil and coal to make electricity is wasteful. If you are looking at nationalized my question is do you trust our politicians ? I for one don’t!

  3. That’s one of the situations where demand pushes the pricing higher. There aren’t that many gas stations in the area, the owners know each other and many people are careful enough not to risk getting stuck with an empty tank somewhere in the desert. Would be interesting to see how many drivers just get 5 gallons or so to be on the safe side.

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