Gasoline prices in Mercer County continues to fall, but motorists are fuming that it still costs less just over the border in Ohio.
Mercer County’s average price for a gallon of gas on Monday was $3.97 a gallon, AAA said in its weekly survey of local gas stations.
Getting a fix on gas prices is a moving target that changes daily or even hourly. So prices based on an early Monday morning canvassing of gas stations could be different from one taken later in the day.
Also, not every gas station is contacted, which also can skew results and there are deals to be had.
Just across the Ohio border, Trumbull County’s average was $3.30 – well below the Mercer County average and the national $3.67 average.
So why is gas more expensive on this side of the border – and even the rest of the country?
One factor is fairly well known, Ohio’s gas tax is 38.5 cents a gallon versus Pennsylvania which is 57.5 cents. Only California has a higher state gas tax at 68 cents. But more on that later.
There are other gotchas.
Ohio’s prices are set in the Chicago markets, which has access to cheaper Canadian oil. Western Pennsylvania prices hail from the New York Harbor, where pricier oil is imported from the Middle East and other overseas locations.
Last week the spot price for gasoline was $2.72 from New York was versus $2.54 from Chicago, a difference of 18 cents a gallon.
And then there’s transportation costs, said Jim Garrity, a AAA spokesman based in Pittsburgh.
“Philadelphia’s refineries serve much of our area, and the transportation costs in getting the gas here is a big factor,’’ Garrity said. “If you live in an area that’s far away from pipelines, it adds to the delivery costs.’’
California motorists have been paying among the nation’s very highest prices for gas; it’s currently running an average of $5.43 a gallon.
But in October the West Coast state is starting a gas relief program.
The $9.5-billion tax refund program will provide one-time payments of up to $1,050 for some families.
To be eligible, residents must have filed their 2020 tax returns by Oct. 15, 2021, lived in the state for six months or more in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent in 2020. Recipients must also be a California resident on the date the payment is issued.