Commentary: Alaska's gas prices out of whack

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

Alaskans face a "duopoly" of gasoline suppliers in the state. Two refineries – the Flint Hills operation in North Pole and Tesoro's Nikiski facility – provide most of the state's gasoline. So let's see ... Most of our gasoline is made here, yet as of December we were paying about 80 cents a gallon more than the national average.


The answer has been elusive.

State Sen. Bill Wielechowski has one. Alaskans, he said, are paying for "legal price gouging."

The senator and allies in the House – Rep. Les Gara and Reps.-elect Pete Petersen and Chris Tuck – have legislation in the works that would effectively roll back the "refiner's margin." That's the difference between what Alaska refiners pay for crude oil and what they charge retailers for their finished product.

What Alaskans want to know is why that margin keeps growing so fast, compared to refiners' margins in Washington state and the national average.

According to a legislative research report, the refiner's margin in Washington as of September 2008 was 60 cents a gallon. The U.S. average was 63 cents a gallon. The Alaska average was $1.25 a gallon – double the Outside margins.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.