10/20/08 — Gas price squeeze: Beginning to look fishy that prices are still higher

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Gas price squeeze: Beginning to look fishy that prices are still higher

We might not have liked hearing the explanation, but many North Carolina drivers understood that slow supplies in the Gulf were taking their toll on prices and availability of gas.

So, when distributors said they were doing the best they could, there was a wary, but watchful silence as residents coped with higher prices and waited for the emergency to be alleviated.

But now, several weeks later, some of us are starting to wonder if perhaps we are being taken advantage of when it comes to the prices at the pumps.

Gas prices are sinking all around us. Some areas in this state have already slipped below $3 a gallon.

Not so here. Wayne County prices are still a bit steep -- and above the state average.

So what is an honest consumer supposed to think?

Local distributors -- at least the ones that will talk -- say that they are mere victims of the market. They charge enough to make a small profit -- but that the margin is low right now. They price their gas as low as the market will allow.

And to their credit, none have been cited locally in the state attorney general's recent gas price gouging probe.

But it does seem like some of them are taking a bit of an advantage of the situation -- and that they are not nearly in as much of a hurry to bring the prices down as they were to increase them.

And that should make local leaders pay close attention.

Encouraging people to conserve gas -- and protecting the local supply -- are worthy goals.

We just need to make sure that's what's going on.

Published in Editorials on October 20, 2008 11:01 AM