The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

New Jersey Joins Rest of U.S. at $2 Per Gallon Gasoline

April 19, 2005

NEW YORK — New Jersey on April 12 became the last U.S. state to suffer an average retail price over $2 a gallon for gasoline, which keeps breaking nationwide records daily, the AAA motor club said in a report by Reuters. Pump prices in New Jersey hit an average $2.02 a gallon for regular, though gas stayed the cheapest in the country thanks to lower taxes and nearby refineries, pipelines and ports. “That keeps us on the bottom, which is a good thing, being on the bottom,” said Tracy Noble, a New Jersey resident and public affairs specialist for AAA's Mid-Atlantic region. The national average for self-serve regular gasoline hit $2.20 per gallon on April 19, AAA said in its daily survey of more than 60,000 service stations. That's 13 percent higher than just a month ago. While gasoline prices are at record heights in nominal terms, when adjusted for inflation they remain below the peak of $3.00 seen in 1981. “It's starting to have its effect on consumers, being above $2,”said Noble. “People are going to be more conscious of where they are going to buy their gas.” New Jersey drivers also pay the second-lowest fuel taxes in the United States, amounting to 14.5 cents a gallon, according to the oil-industry group American Petroleum Institute. Wyoming drivers pay the least in taxes at 14 cents a gallon. The U.S. average for state-imposed taxes on gasoline is 25.6 cents per gallon. New York has the highest at 39.6 cents a gallon, API figures show. “When someone asks me how much gasoline prices are going to be, I have to ask where they are living. There's a huge difference between driving in Los Angeles and driving on Route 46 in New Jersey,' said oil analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover in Connecticut. The highest gasoline prices among the 50 U.S. states, as usual, are in California, where state environmental regulations require a blend of fuel that only in-state refineries can easily produce. California pump prices averaged $2.48 a gallon on April 19, the AAA data showed. Oil industry analysts say that by Memorial Day, U.S. average pump prices for regular gasoline could reach almost $2.50 a gallon nationwide. If the national average does hit $2.50, California's regular gasoline average price would almost reach $3 per gallon, considering that the nation's biggest state runs about 30 cents higher than the national average. While the AAA prices are for lower-priced self-service regular — compared with full-service gasoline that is pumped by station attendants — New Jersey does not allow motorists to pump their own gasoline. Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states that require attendants to pump gasoline for motorists. The issue was linked to safety when it was legislated and now drivers in New Jersey support keeping the rules, said Pam Maiolo, manager of public and government affairs for the AAA's Mid-Atlantic region. Diesel fuel also hit a record retail high by the AAA's reckoning, at $2.33 a gallon. A month ago the U.S. diesel averaged $2.18 and a year ago $1.72. The AAA cooperates with the Oil Price Information Service with its data.
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