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High and Low Gas Prices

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 16, 2012

Why is the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Wyoming close to $3.36 and New York, $4.00?

Location and regulation.

Wyoming produces oil, it refines it, and, its taxes are among the lowest in the country. Also because of good location and less regulation,  Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alaska have cheap gas.

By contrast, as a non-producer and high taxer, New York has relatively expensive gas. Sharing the #1 spot, California has high gas taxes while Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Michigan are close behind.

Here are some handy maps to see taxes, prices, and a list of producing states.

The Economic Lesson

Typically, when the world price of a commodity is higher than the domestic price, a country prefers to be an exporter. Using Brent Crude as a benchmark, the world price is higher than domestically produced West Texas Intermediate (WTI). However, logistics make exporting WTI at a competitive price relatively tough.

Today’s prices are approximately $125 for Brent and $105 for WTI. This explanation explains oil prices further and names other types including Nigerian Bonny Light and Algerian Saharan Blend.

An Economic Question: How might the price at the pump affect retail sales?

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