Anchorage high gasoline prices just won't come down

As the sky-high cost of crude oil begins to come back down to earth, gas prices in major cities around the United States are falling daily.

Except in Anchorage.

While the per-gallon price of gas in Portland dropped 33 cents in the past month, it fell only two pennies in Anchorage, according to statistics compiled daily by the Web site

It's down 29 cents a gallon, to $4.07, in Seattle. Nine cents, to $4.02, in Boise. Thirty cents, to $4.29, in San Francisco. Thirty-two cents, to $3.62, in Minneapolis.

On Thursday afternoon, Anchorage had the highest gas price of any major city in America, according to the Web site. Higher than San Francisco. Higher than Honolulu (although the two cities are running neck-and-neck).

So as you watch the dollars add up as you fill your tank, you might ponder the reasons why gas prices are defying national trends:

-- Must be the high cost of shipping things to Alaska.

Wrong. According to the state Department of Revenue, 95 percent of all gasoline consumed in Anchorage and the rest of the state is refined in Alaska. No shipping costs, except those involved with trucking it from refineries in Nikiski, North Pole and Valdez.

-- Gotta be those darn taxes.

Wrong. At eight cents a gallon, Alaska's motor fuel tax is the lowest in the nation. If you want to blame the government for high gas prices, go to California. The state tax on gas there is 56.5 cents a gallon, the highest in the nation.

-- Surely there's a conspiracy among producers, wholesalers or retailers.

Don't be so sure. The state attorney general, which investigated that very thing less than 10 years ago, has received no evidence of collusion. The 1999 investigation, which lasted more than two years, ended after the Department of Law failed to find sufficient evidence that anti-trust laws were violated.

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