Gas prices dip, demand down compared to last year

Marcony Almeida

Gas

Gas prices in Massachusetts are down two cents as slumping consumer demand and lower crude oil prices give motorists a break from high prices at the pump this summer.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $2.68, AAA Northeast said, three pennies lower than the $2.71 per gallon national average and 16 cents cheaper than the average price here a year ago.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that demand for gasoline dropped last week to 9.55 million barrels per day, about 100,000 barrels per day fewer than the previous week and 300,000 barrels per day less than last year at the same time.

“Prices are cheaper as demand saw a small dip on the week, even though overall demand remains robust for the summer,” Mary Maguire, director of public and legislative affairs, said to the media. “Most states have seen cheaper pump prices of a few pennies and motorists can expect this trend to continue through the first part of August.”

In Massachusetts, AAA found gas prices ranging from $2.39 per gallon to a high of $2.99 per gallon. And drivers could soon see changes in the price at the pump, regardless of oil market dynamics.

House lawmakers are gearing up for a debate on a broad transportation financing package this fall. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said he is open to tax hikes or just about any other prescription to address the state’s critical needs and wants the House to vote on a plan this fall.

One possible remedy that some state representatives have already approached DeLeo to say they would support is another attempt to tie the state’s gas tax to inflation.

“Some members have already approached me on it, they feel that they could support,” the speaker said at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast in March. “It’s never an easy issue to take up, but again, I think we’re at a stage where if we’re going to get serious about addressing this issue then everything and anything has to be on the table.”

In 2013, the Legislature voted to raise the gas tax by three cents — which legislative leaders at the time called “sensible and reasonable” — and set it up to continue to increase apace with inflation. Led by then-Rep. Geoff Diehl, activists organized a campaign to repeal the automatic gas tax indexing and secured a spot on the 2014 ballot for a repeal effort. The automatic indexing was repealed with 53 percent of voters in favor.

Source: SHNS

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