I Feel A Little Bit Like I’m Back In Europe

The current national average price for 87-octane unleaded gasoline is $3.81 a gallon. In California, it’s $4.65 a gallon.¬† In my particular neck of the woods, the cheapest I’ve seen it is ten cents a gallon higher than that. It seems like just last week I was paying only a little bit over $4.00 a gallon.


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Filling up my car cost me nearly a C-note. If I’m going to be paying European prices for my gasoline, I want roads the quality of the kind I can drive on in Europe. American roads ain’t cutting it — the only thing American roads cut is the durability of my car’s suspension.

      • Worst driving conditions you mean.
        I’m pretty sure if you made me guess,
        either Arkansas or West Virginia has the worst roads.
        (I’m giving the title to Arkansas — i think byrd did a decent job.)

    • Today’s prices for unleaded 85-octane gasoline in the UK, France, and Germany, work out to $8.65, $8.33, and $8.10 per US gallon. At least one estimate is that California needs to spend an additional $1.3B per year for 20 years to bring all roads up to “good” condition. Retail gasoline sales in California for 2012 are estimated to be 14.6B gallons. Bring California prices up to actual European prices with a state tax of $3-4 per gallon and you generate sufficient revenue to bring the roads up to snuff in… call it three to six months.

      None of us in the US are paying European prices. Nor would we have to to bring our roads up to standard. European gas taxes are a source of general revenue for most of the countries, not just to pay for roads.

      • Perhaps it is worth adding that, in my Western state, one of the reasons that Republicans oppose increases in the fuel taxes to pay for roads — compared to the current situation where gas tax revenue has to be supplemented with money from the General Fund — is that the current arrangement results in a substantial transfer of funds from the urban (Democratic) parts of the state to the rural (Republican) parts.

        • Opportunism helps. Gas taxes are remarkably unpopular, even if higher prices fit the environmentalist agenda (as well as concepts of fairness – though I’m told that gas taxes are regressive, so there’s that).

  2. Regular gas (85) is $3.69 out here, minus 3-10 cents for using my Safeway Card. Which, considering how far out in the middle of nowhere we are – and how far away we are from gas refineries – is actually not bad. Regional variations are weird. California is more expensive than Hawaii. Hawaii does have refineries, but California has a lot of them.

    • Hawaii has a very large refining capacity relative to its consumer sales of gasoline. 75% of their electricity is generated by burning oil; the US military buys large amounts of various sorts of fuel; disproportionate amounts of bunker oil for ships and jet fuel for airliners is needed. Even with modern tech, there are limits to how far you can push the refining process — there is a distinct possibility that they end up with more gasoline than they need from time to time while meeting the demand for other products. As opposed to California, where the refining capacity runs much closer to the edge, and which is in practical terms almost as isolated as Hawaii. Comparing the two is a complicated exercise.

        • Hawaii can (and does) buy refined products from outside the state, California cannnot. So in effect, California is more of a gasoline island than Hawaii is.

    • I wanna say gas on Kaua’i was about $.50 higher than in my hometown of San Luis Obispo, CA when I there in April.

      • Typically the neighbor islands are 50 cents to a buck more than Oahu. This run up in California prices is also quite recent, just in the last couple months.

  3. California has a lot of refineries…but they’re all burned down right now. And California has this thing where they don’t allow gasoline to be imported into the state.

    • Yeah, I’ve just been doing some catching up on oil refining reading. A guy in the LA Times is blaming the refineries for not stocking up on reserves. That seems fair enough. Though the solution to the broader problem he outlines seems to be “Hey, let’s allow for the building more refineries!” Which I don’t think a whole lot of people want to hear, and may not be an issue cause half of the articles I read talk about how unprofitable refineries are (the other half talks about how obscenely profitable they are due to the evil oil companies)…

  4. One nice thing about this is that no one can blame Republicans for helping out their buddies in the oil industry. Another thing is it show how serious people are about protecting the environment – they’re all for it until they have to pay a price.

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