Letter: Gasoline prices: Where is the outrage?
October 29, 2014
Residents of this valley are being fleeced by greedy oil marketers. Some of our politicians welcome the fact (especially the mayor of Aspen) believing that high prices will promote increased use of mass transit. One can only wonder if these politicians are being paid off by greedy oil companies.
A headline in the Wall Street Journal stated "Gasoline prices have dropped below $3 a gallon at most U.S. gas stations." The author obviously did not visit the valley. (In fairness, I must note he did call me and quote me because I guess I qualify as an expert.)
The question is why do the gasoline marketers in the valley get away with this grand larceny?
The answer is that they do this because they can. The profits are going to Houston, not to the owner of the stations in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. Each station operator pays a price that is unique to her or his situation. The profits all go to the companies such as Phillips 66 — the firm that supplies the Conoco stations. If a renegade firm such as Costco charges low prices then the suppliers will make sure their stations nearby (for example, Gypsum), can buy at a price which allows them to compete.
These firms will not, though, extend the discount to the Conoco station at the Aspen Business Center. The operator there may pay $1 per gallon more for its supplies than the operator at Gypsum. Why are the prices so different? The words "profit maximization," "greed" and "indifference" come to mind. Oil companies do this because they can, especially if local politicians look the other way.
There is one individual in the valley who could, if he cared, address the issue. He is the mayor of Aspen. However, he clearly does not care if you pay $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 more per year for gasoline than you should. He wants you to take the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses or ride your bicycle. Never mind that it is easier to take children in a car, especially if going downvalley to Willits to the good stores or running errands. He apparently does not understand that he is destroying your wealth.
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Other politicians in the country have acted to save their constituents 20 cents per gallon. Ask your mayor why he does not care if you are robbed of $1 per gallon and a few thousand dollars per year. He may not get a penny in contributions from the oil companies, but he is in their pocket. He is owned by oil.
Philip K. Verleger
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