Gasoline prices are high for this time of year

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Gasoline price relief? It may feel that way in some parts of the nation. That’s certainly what should be happening in autumn, when post-summer driving is mostly confined to commutes, errands and short trips. But is it really relief? History suggests that the answer is an emphatic no.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell again over the last week, to $3.833, down from $3.889. It was the fourth straight week of declines, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. But that is still more than 23 cents a gallon higher than it ever has been at this time of year and 82.9 cents a gallon above than the year-ago price.


The old record for this week of the year in California was $3.601 a gallon, set in October 2008.

The national average also has fallen for four straight weeks, reaching $3.417 a gallon, down from $3.493. But the U.S. average has been higher on only one other occasion during this time of year, when it was $3.484 a gallon in October 2008. A year ago, the national average was $2.711 a gallon.

The cost of the current pain at the pump has been huge, according to Fred Rozell, director of retail prices for the Oil Price Information Service. OPIS and Wright Express are the source for the AAA Fuel Gauge Report’s averages, which are gathered daily using retail receipts from more than 100,000 service stations around the U.S.

‘We spent about $40.3 billion on gasoline in September of this year. That compares to $30.9 billion in September of last year. Those kinds of numbers really add up,’ Rozell said.

In other energy news, oil continued to tumble based on fears that Greece would default on its debt payments and put pressure on other debt-laden European economies. U.S. crude for November delivery fell $1.91 to $77.29 during trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent oil for November was down $1.75 to $101.01 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Exchange.


California leads the nation in reducing gasoline use

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-- Ronald D. White