By Guy Page
Vermont gasoline prices have dropped slightly in the last several days, due in part to hopes of a resolution of the Ukraine-Russia war, according to Gas Buddy, the gasoline consumer website.
Late last week, the lowest price of regular-grade gasoline in the Barre-Montpelier area was $4.29, with many stations selling at $4.49. This morning, $4.19 was a common sight, with $4.15 for holders of the Cumberland Farms discount card.
“After rallying intensely over the last few weeks, the price of oil has plummeted over $20 per barrel from its intraday high,” Gas Buddy said. “In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down $6.91 per barrel to $102.52, down significantly from last week’s $117.99. Brent crude oil was also trading sharply lower, down $6.54 to $106.13 per barrel. Much of the drop stems from continued dialogue between Russia and Ukraine and hopes that mounting pressure on Russia’s economy could lead to a breakthrough between the neighbors amidst Russia’s war on Ukraine.”
The lowest reported price of Vermont gasoline today was $3.99, at Cunningham’s in Canaan, the Northeast Kingdom town where (as local lore says) you can stand with one foot in Quebec, one foot in Vermont, and spit into New Hampshire.
The second-lowest reported gas price is Jimmy Kwik in Newport, owned by Vermont legislator Mike Marcotte (R-Coventry). Notified of this fact, Marcotte told a State House reporter today that Gas Buddy doesn’t record all gas prices, and that no doubt gas can be found cheaper elsewhere. “But we do what we can,” Marcotte said.
The Chronicle asked a lawmaker and member of the Climate Caucus if the House is planning any gasoline tax cuts. Probably not, the legislator answered: higher prices tend to promote conservation, which many lawmakers regard as a positive step.
“The price of gasoline really isn’t in our wheelhouse,” House Transportation Chair Diane Lanpher (D-Vergennes) told the Chronicle today. All the committee could do is reduce the 13 cent state tax on gasoline at the pump. However, that revenue is already in decline due to decreased sales.
And the State needs that revenue to take advantage of unprecedented federal “match” opportunities, she said. If anything the tax should increase to avail the State of these federal matching funds, but in the current political climate, that would be very unpopular, Lanpher said.
At present there are two Vermont taxes on gasoline. The tax we pay at the pump is per gallon, irrespective of price. In times of high gas prices, this tax revenue tends to fall because drivers buy less fuel. However, a separate tax on fuel dealers is based on sales. When the cost of gasoline rises, this tax rises along with it.