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Gasoline Prices Climb Again

Most Vermont drivers have noticed the steady upward creep of gas prices in recent weeks.

According to, which tracks prices nationally, the average retail price for a gallon of gasoline in the Burlington area has ticked up by more than 14 cents in the past month.

One factor is the yearly changeover from winter blend to summer blend gasoline.

According to Joe Choquette of the Vermont Petroleum Association, “When that happens there’s always a decline in the current supply that you can sell now and it's being replaced by the summer blend which is a little more expensive to make.”

Although seasonal changes are part of the increase, per gallon Burlington prices are 29 cents higher than they were a year ago.

"Our prices seem to have stayed up higher than they have in the rest of the country for a while now." Joe Choquette of the Vermont Petroleum Association.

That’s in spite of the fact that crude oil inventories are high thanks to record US oil production.

Much of the increase is due to fracking technology used in Western states. 

Despite the boom in crude oil production, Choquette says not everyone benefits.

“We don’t refine all the same kind of crude oil.  The crude oil we refine on the East Coast is more expensive than the crude oil we refine in the middle of the country and on the West Coast,” he says.

“The central part of the nation and the West Coast  are getting some benefit from the discoveries they’ve made out there, but the East Coast doesn’t seem to be getting that benefit. Our prices seem to have stayed up higher than they have in the rest of the country for a while now.”

Explaining gas prices has always been a topic of debate. 

As the accompanying chart shows, prices rise and fall to different degrees and at different times each year.

There’s general agreement that demand, changes in refining capacity, political tensions and speculation influence the price of gasoline.

Two years ago Sen.Bernie Sanders cited another possibility. Sanders asked the government to investigate prices in Northwestern Vermont, suggesting that retailers were keeping them artificially high.  

The Federal Trade Commission looked into Sanders’ allegations but took no action.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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