Home > Uncategorized > What can we do about the Chevron monopoly?

What can we do about the Chevron monopoly?

One of the perennial complaints in Humboldt County is the unusually high price of gasoline.  In an excellent article in the North Coast Journal back in July, Ryan Burns explored the high price of gas and noted that most gas is barged to Chevron’s terminal behind the Bayshore Mall.  The alternative is trucking it, which can require overnight stays by truckers.  Our gas ends up costing, consistently, 25 to 40 cents more at the pump than the gas at Willits, which doesn’t need overnights and where a Safeway station forces the other stations into something supposedly all-American: competition.

So, dear Herald readers, how do we get out from under this monopoly?

How do we get an alternative storage facility for barged gas, meaning that alternatives to Chevron’s storage tanks can create a competitive market?  It doesn’t need to be as large as Chevron’s; it just needs to exist.  Or, in the alternative, how do we convince Chevron to stop price gouging Humboldt gasoline users?

How do we get competition on price among local stations, so that local stations’ markup becomes more like the markup in Willits?

Can short-sea shipping play a role?  Can government?  Would prosecution of people engaged in anti-competitive behavior work? Should a solution to this problem be a requirement for re-electing any Supervisor?

The problem with a “free market solution” is that anyone who invests in creating fair competition would lose money the moment Chevron lowered their prices to match them.  The public would win, but the entrepreneur would lose. So “free market solutions” are simply unrealistic.  What are the alternatives?

  1. October 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    We could study building a gasoline pipeline from the nearest stub. Don’t know where that might be but it might be Redding, Ukiah, Fort Bragg or Southern Oregon. Would probably cost 1/3 to 1/5 the cost of the fantasy railroad to the east. Even if it shaved 10 cents a gallon off the cost of local gas that would save the Humboldt economy $7,000,000 a year. The pipeline would pay for itself in 15 years or so.

    Any railroad out of Humboldt Bay in any direction will always require a public taxpayers subsidy to operate. For ever.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  2. October 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Or perhaps the county could buy or support a private business in buying a set of tanker trucks, set up a transfer facility south of Garberville, and hire drivers to do loops from Martinez to Garberville and also from Garberville to service stations north.

    Or perhaps the county could construct a 100,000 gallon storage facility on the bay, probably way too small for full bargeloads, but then bring sets of 10 tanker trucks in on a mixed short-sea shipping service for lower costs.

    Or…?

  3. 06em
    October 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    The County should pay for a nights lodging and breakfast for any trucker who hauls a load of gasoline to Humboldt.

  4. October 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    06em’s suggestion has the huge advantages of being straightforward and easy to implement nearly instantly. When the cost of trucked gasoline comes down, the cost of barged gasoline will come down to match the trucked price. Thanks.

  5. October 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I am not sure that subsidizing the cost of fuel in Humboldt County is really doable. You might be accused of being a Hugo Chavez clone. We burn more than 70 million gallons a year in Humboldt County.

    However maybe we could organize a worker owned or community owned trucking company headquartered in Eureka. If we are talking trucks then combining local distribution with the long haul will solve the problem of overnights because the remaining several hours of the return trip may be used in local distribution directly instead of going to an intermediate distribution point.

    In that way economies could be achieved that would be unavailable to a trucking company that is based outside the area.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  6. What Now
    October 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Rolling boycotts,car pooling,walking and bijke riding.
    I used my journal last month to calculate mules driven vs. miles biked in the previous 12 month:
    I biked and average of 102.24 miles/week
    drove an auto a total of 83 miles in the entire previous 12 months

  7. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    O.K., but how many miles did you drive mules?

  8. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    You should do some research before you put false information out there. It is a chevron terminal, but there are a half a dozen companies that dispense fuel from there. I don’t claim to fully understand how it works, but to publish something like this, making it sound like the only fuel there is a chevron monopoly is utterly false and bad journalism.

  9. 06em
    October 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Bill,
    I just read your post. So you’re saying that getting the Supes to agree to offer a motel room and some coffee and hot cakes for any truckers willing to help out isn’t doable, but creating a co-op trucking company from scratch is doable. Got it. Thanks.

  10. jr
    October 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    In the late 80s, there was an idea proposed that the Northcoast Co-Op would establish a filling station that would provide lower rates for Co-Op members (but anyone could use the station). Obviously, the idea died, but there may be a file in the Arcata Co-Op outlining this plan. As a “member owned” enterprise, fuel costs would be lower because any profit is given back to the members.

  11. October 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Have no fear, Soetoro a/k/a Obummer has taken care of it. He has issued 923 Executive Orders in 3 1/2 years! Executive Order # 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals. Executive Order # 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis. It seems he’s determined to take control away from the House and Senate.
    Just sayin . . .

  12. October 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    paul,

    There may be several companies that purchase fuel from the Chevron facility, but they are all buying their fuel from Chevron, at Chevron’s prices. Some add additive packages, some don’t. And Chevron keeps its Eureka terminal prices just below the cost of trucking fuel from Chevron’s Martinez refinery, which is much more expensive than barging it from that refinery.

    Also, since you seem confused, let me clarify: it’s not journalism, it’s a blog post asking people for suggestions about how to solve a problem.

  13. What Now
    October 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    tra :O.K., but how many miles did you drive mules?

    None, TRA.
    Didn;t want to interrupt your “quality time” with your “liesure comapnions”.

  14. October 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    What Now,

    Yes, reducing car usage would be great. But that’s not the question at hand. The question at hand is, given that people are going to use their cars a certain amount, how can they avoid paying a Chevron only-terminal tax and a gas station no-price-competition tax on top of the regular price of gasoline. If people want to devote their savings to buying bicycles, that would be great.

    jr,

    I think it would be wonderful if the Northcoast Cooperative opened one or more filling stations, and sold gas to members at cost. I suspect it would be highly controversial among the Coop membership, for any number of reasons. Large employers in the area might consider doing something similar for their employees… HSU, St. Joseph’s, the County.

  15. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Forest Queen:

    Do you ever make any attempt to check the veracity of the claims you make before you make them?

    The “Obama has issued 923 Executive Orders” claim is pure fiction:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/executiveorders.asp

    The actual number of Executive Orders issued by Obama is 138. To put that in context, Bush II issued 291 in 8 years, Clinton 364 in 8 years, Bush I 166 in 4 years, Reagan 381 in 8 years.

    By the way, the two Executive Orders you specifically cited were not issued by Obama, they were issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

  16. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I was confused by the herald name. Probably should just stop here, but, you are wrong again. There is some sort of trade between chevron terminals and the other companies terminals around the country and maybe even globe. If there were a cheaper way of getting it here, don’t you think one of the six fuel companies in humblodt would have figured it out by now. And…if we can’t keep a rail road open, do you think a hazardous pipeline is a good idea. And…. does humblodt have the population and fuel consumption to pay for such ideas presented here. Hell no. We locals tend to forget that if you combine the whole counties population we are still just a small city. I have a suggestion. If ya don’t like the fuel prices in this beautiful and REMOTE part of the state, move. Or, but a fuel truck and do it yourself.

  17. jr
    October 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    While the Northcoast Co-Op would be the ideal “underwriter” of such a project, should they not want to participate in such an endeavor a stand alone member cooperative could be established focusing on fuel and car repair. What works for selling food can also work for selling automotive products.

  18. jr
    October 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Paul makes some valid points and all the more reason to establish a consumer cooperative that is based on providing fuel and car repair services to its members. When profits are either put back into the enterprise or returned to its members as an annual dividend everyone benefits.

  19. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    “What works for selling food can also work for selling automotive products.”

    Great, so then should we expect the same kind of affordable prices for gasoline that the Co-op offers for food? What would that be then, about $8.50 a gallon? But at least the music and the interior decor will be much more tasteful at the Co-op gas station than at the conventional gas stations!

  20. October 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    paul,

    You sound very upset at the thought of what you are calling an impossibility, very anxious to prevent people from “wasting their time.” That’s awfully kind of you to be so concerned for others time. But if it’s impossible to get fuel here at lower prices than those Chevron charges, you have nothing to worry about, do you? Just do nothing, as you urge others to do.

    The way to get gasoline to the area inexpensively is to barge it. Since the Chevron terminal is the only facility at which a barge can offload in this county, Chevron is only too happy to set their rates for their maximum profit, meaning they price their gasoline to local jobbers at a rate just below the cost for jobbers to truck gasoline in. If there were an alternative offloading facility, even a small one, then Chevron’s terminal would have to compete with the prices of that alternative facility, and a free market would actually begin to exist.

  21. October 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    The only difficulty with a cooperative approach (which I would love to see happen) is the same difficulty with a straightforward business approach — if you build a business model that is based on discounting current prices, you may be successful at breaking the anti-competitive pricing here. But once you do that, your business model no longer applies, because the prices will have come down. The advantage to doing it as a cooperative is that no individual member loses much, but you’d still have to be willing to have the members of the cooperative concentrate the loss on themselves while the benefits of breaking the anti-competitive pricing would accrue to everyone.

    So I think something involving government or large employers would be more likely to succeed.

    I seem to recall calculating once that the gas overcharges here cost either $100 per capita or $100 per car, per year.

  22. jr
    October 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Tra: Yes, some of the Co-Op’s prices are high, but they used to have a “People’s Pantry” of lower priced items, and you can still find bargains if you plan your shopping trip. Having a consumer co-op fueling station takes the profit out of the equation like the Co-Op’s old slogan “food for people, not for profit.” Most of all, a member-owned station is a locally owned and operated business that benefits its members and the community at large.

  23. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Tra….Niiice!!! Not sure why the co-op keeps getting thrown out there. They are far from affordable on any level. So any would their fuel be. I’m sure they love people talking about what they could or should do. I don’t know the answer other than…..I love living here. I want them city folk, with their good fuel prices to stay right where they are. In the city, next to a refinery, and a half a million lemmings just like them. I am more than willing and EXPECT to pay more to live no less than 2 1/2 hours drive from the nearest so called city. But, I also realize that we…in humblodt consider ourselves a part of the rest of the state, much less the world. It isn’t until we leave for awhile that we realize humblodt is just very….very rural part of California.

  24. jr
    October 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Mitch: The business model is the same as Costco’s in that members reap whatever price savings are achieved, but with one important detail, co-ops exist to serve their members.

  25. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I am in no way trying to sto you all from thinking new thoughts. Just trying to quell the wrong facts thrown out again that chevron regulates the fuel price on the north coast. And no I am not employed by chevron. But do have some inside knowledge of the system due to the job that I do have. I just don’t like some of the premises of these arguments, or solutions to be founded on falsehoods. Makes for a very unsteady foundation. Everything built on it is not stable.

  26. October 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    paul,

    I hadn’t realized that lowering our fuel prices would eliminate part of Humboldt’s charm. It’s an interesting argument. Somehow, Willits manages to have prices 25 to 40 cents per gallon lower than we have, and I hadn’t thought of WIllits residents as “them city folk.” Would it destroy Humboldt if our gas prices were only 10 to 15 cents higher than those in Willits… basically the marginal cost of an additional 100 miles of trucking? After all, it probably costs less to barge fuel from Martinez to Humboldt than it costs to truck it from Martinez to Willits.

    It always strikes me as a little comical when someone earnestly tells people not to even think about banding together to break a monopoly, and doesn’t expect people to recognize that they must be making their comments out of self-interest.

  27. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Jr.,

    As I understand it, the problem is not that local gas stations are really taking bigger profits than gas stations in other areas, the problem is that the wholesale rate that they have to pay for the gas is very high, whether it comes here by barge or by truck. So starting a new “Co-op” gas station wouldn’t really “take the profit out of the equation,” because most of the profits are going to the oil companies themselves, not the local gas stations. The Co-op gas station would be in the same situation as everyone else — either buying the gas that is barged into the Chevron terminal, or buying gas that is trucked up here. Unless the Co-op gas station has a less expensive source of fuel and.or a less expensive way of transporting it, I just don’t see how this would solve the problem. If I’m misunderstanding your proposal, I apologize. Feel free to explain what it is that I’m missing.

  28. October 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    tra,

    Look at listings six and seven here: http://www.ackerman-cre.com/GasStationsForSale

    The reason the Humboldt stations are desirable is that this is a very high margin area. The detailed listings on the Shell station and the Texaco station in Arcata both assert a $0.35/gallon margin. Since all stations are pricing within a few pennies, that’s the margin all stations in Humboldt have, give or take a few pennies. Don’t believe those who suggest otherwise. Other areas have substantially lower margins at their stations, with Willits probably representing very low margins due to the Safeway effect. A gas station can still make a profit even with low gas margins, because it gets high margins on the tobacco, alcohol, candy, etc…

    Humboldt’s top-of-the-nation gas pricing is due partly to these high margins and partly to Chevron being able to charge two-day truck prices even though their costs are really much lower due to barging gas.

  29. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    And AGAIN Mitch I will say. At no point am I saying….don’t think about new ideas. All I am doing is TRYING to inform YOU that on several of your key points YOU are flawed. Thus, your premise can not support ANY building of ideas. But, I fall on deaf ears. So, good night. Good luck with a solution. I would be happy to pay less for fuel myself!!!!

  30. October 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks, paul. I agree I am flawed, but I doubt I’m as flawed as Chevron. Good night.

  31. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Mitch,

    I think the basic problem is that barging the gas in is substantially more energy-efficient and cost-effective than trucking it in, but Humboldt simply does not have enough demand to make it worth anyone’s while to set up a second terminal and run a second set of barges to compete with Chevron. Even if someone did set up a second terminal, then you’d just have two underutilized terminals, neither of which would be operating very efficiently, and so prices might not drop much, if they dropped at all.

    As it stands Chevron’s only competition is gas trucked up here from the Bay Area, which is just not a very efficient way to transport large amounts of fuel, and therefore that less-efficient competition does not provide much of a brake on Chevron’s prices. Providing public subsidies to fuel truckers could artificially lower the price of trucking the gas up here and force Chevron to lower its prices to compete with the artificially lowered price of the trucked gas…but only as long as the subsidies continued.

    I don’t think there are any easy answers to this…and there may not even be any hard answers that are likely to actually work. I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here, and I’d love to see Chevron face real competition, but so far I’m not seeing any ideas presented that I think would actually accomplish that.

  32. paul
    October 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Thought I was done, but again Mitch, you don’t take into account the whole picture. Say it is true that the station makes $.35 per gallon. What is the percent of mark up when he bought that gallon for $4+. That’s less than 10%. Do you know anything about stores and mark up? 10% is nothing. Where is the travesty? It is the least percent of profit in ANY convenience store. I am done now. Mitch, you are very flawed in your fact finding and presentation.

  33. October 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    tra,

    I think you’ve got it exactly right about the problem of setting up a second terminal. That’s why I find 06em’s idea at the very top of the discussion very appealing.

    One goal is to get Chevron to drop its terminal prices. To accomplish that goal you just need to provide a lower cost alternative. Since Chevron is pricing to undercut trucking, the solution is to reduce the cost of trucking. There are a couple of ways of doing that, and one very straightforward way is to subsidize it to force Chevron to lower its prices — they’d do it because they’d still be making a profit, and they don’t want to abandon their already existing facility.

  34. What Now
    October 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    tra :Forest Queen:
    Do you ever make any attempt to check the veracity of the claims you make before you make them?
    The “Obama has issued 923 Executive Orders” claim is pure fiction:
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/executiveorders.asp
    The actual number of Executive Orders issued by Obama is 138. To put that in context, Bush II issued 291 in 8 years, Clinton 364 in 8 years, Bush I 166 in 4 years, Reagan 381 in 8 years.
    By the way, the two Executive Orders you specifically cited were not issued by Obama, they were issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

    Thanks, TRA.
    I’d written down a note to search this earlier and vame back after checking SNOPES.

  35. October 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    …continuing…

    The other goal is to force price competition at local stations, so that we are no longer known as a “high margin area.” To do that you have to have a station that is willing to break from the pack. A cooperative might be able to provide such a station.

  36. Anonymous
    October 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Just so we’re clear, barging is short sea shipping.

  37. October 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    paul,

    It’s really extremely straightforward. If a station in Willits is able to sell gas for $4/gallon, and the marginal cost of transporting gas from Willits to Eureka is $0.10/gallon, a station should be able to sell gas in Eureka at $4.10/gallon and make exactly the same profit as the station in Willits. Period. No matter what explanations you have.

    And, as you know, the stations make their money off of everything besides gasoline; in most places there are extremely low margins on gas to bring in customers for everything else the station sells.

    But you’ve left already. Oh well.

  38. keyote
    October 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    The commitment of Humboldt residents to low mileage vehicles argues against there being a general concern about the price of gas. If the supply side of the equation is unresponsive, you gotta work on the demand side. You’ll likely never be charged less (sorry) but you can use less. Look at the bright side: the prices we are paying now, everyone else will be paying later….

  39. October 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    #36,

    Do you know if it’s possible to barge smaller quantities of gasoline than the barges that currently bring gas to the Chevron terminal? Does that remain lower cost than trucking it?

    When I was thinking of short-sea shipping, I was thinking of barges or barge chains that might have many products besides gasoline, so that you wouldn’t need to bring up a million gallons at a shot, or whatever a typical barge delivery consists of.

  40. October 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    #38,

    I see an awful lot of high mileage diesels on the roads these days. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford high mileage vehicles, especially in the used car market; although the high mileage vehicle is lower cost in the end, you have to have the cash up front to buy it.

    And then lots of people looking to spend large sums of cash they’ve somehow received aren’t as concerned about mileage as others might be. Perhaps that’s why you think the residents of this area don’t care about mileage.

  41. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Mitch,

    The per-gallon mark-up that local gas stations are getting may be relatively high compared to other areas, but my impression is that in Humboldt those relatively high mark-ups are accompanied by relatively low sales volumes. So the overall profitability probably isn’t that great.

    But I’m certainly no expert on the local retail gasoline business. If you (or the Co-op. or anyone else) conclude that you can run a local gas station in Humboldt on a significantly lower margin than existing retailers, and/or get a significantly better deal by trucking the fuel for your station up from the Bay Area, then I would be delighted if you (or whoever) can come up with a business plan, attract some investors/partners, buy one of those gas stations and start selling your gas for 10 or 15 cents less a gallon. Should this come to pass, I will be more than happy to come fill up my tank, and tell all my friends about the bargain!

  42. October 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    tra,

    I think you’re missing the point. There is no reason for anyone to sell gas for 10 or 15 cents per gallon less if they are in business to make maximum profit. That’s why the market system has failed. The only way to have a station that sells gas for 10 or 15 cents less is to have a station whose purpose is not to make maximum profit. That would have to be government or a cooperative. And it would have to be able to continue to survive once other stations had matched its price, meaning it would have to have a dedicated membership.

    There’s a bit of implied snark in your #41; I understand why it’s there, but I think it’s misplaced this time. I agree investors in the low priced station would be foolish if they were hoping to make a profit from it. The question is, why are Humboldt’s local stations all selling gas within a few pennies of one another, when other areas have wide spreads in the margin/volume tradeoff. The answer is there is no price competition. We need something to trigger price competition without expecting an investor or group of investors to take a bath on our behalf.

  43. October 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    And, again, why is what happens every day in Willits apparently impossible in Humboldt? Is it Willits’ huge volumes of gas sold? Is it Willits’ heavy urban population? Or is it the existence of a Safeway station that can get its gas from someplace other than the Chevron terminal in Eureka? (As far as I know, even the Costco pumps are supplied from that Chevron terminal, which may be why Costco isn’t all that much lower than everyone else.)

  44. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    ” There is no reason for anyone to sell gas for 10 or 15 cents per gallon less if they are in business to make maximum profit. ”

    That’s like saying Winco has no incentive to sell their food cheaper than Safeway and Rays. Sure they do — by doing so they attract more customers and more sales volume, allowing them to make a good profit even as they provide lower prices. However, this generally only works when you’re bigger than your competitors and as a result can get lower wholesale prices and take advantage of other economies of scale.

    But, sure, if some entity — government, a non-profit organizaton, a co-op or whatever, is willing to run a gas station as a non-profit and not take any profit at all, then yes, at least in theory, they should also be able to undercut the for-profit competition, all things being equal. So — no snark intended — I would love to see that happen. But they’ll still have to at least break even, and build up enough financial reserves to cover things like periodically upgrading their tanks, facilities, etc. My guess is that they’d find that the portion of that 35 cent a gallon mark-up that actually goes into the gas station owner’s pocket — in other words the amount they’d be able to eliminate by forgoing profits — will only amount to a couple of cents a gallon — at least that’s the impression I got from the NCJ article.

  45. tra
    October 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    As far as how the gas stations in Willits are able to offer such significantly lower prices than gas stations here in Humboldt (my impression is that the difference is usually somewhere between 30 and 50 cents less per gallon than the average price here in Humboldt), well, that’s a good question, and I will certainly concede that I am uncertain of the answer.

    I was under the impression that, like Safeway in Willits, Costco trucks their gas up here, and, again like Safeway in Willits, Costco is able to use their position as a large customer to get a better deal on wholesale gas than smaller, independently owned gas stations get.

  46. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

    It would be helpful to know how much gas the lowest-priced Willits gas stations are selling on the average day, compared to how much gas various Humboldt gas stations are selling on the average day. While it’s true that Willits isn’t a very large community, it’s also the only good-sized town for a long stretch along Hwy 101, as well as Hwy 20. So they may indeed get quite a bit of business, and that business may be shared among fewer stations, giving them higher average sales volumes and therefore the ability to take a lower mark-up per gallon. But this is just speculation, as I don’t know what the actual sales figures are (or for that matter, where that information could be found).

  47. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 12:31 am

    According to http://www.californiagasprices.com the current price of regular unleaded gas at Safeway in Willits is $4.51, while the current price of regular unleaded gas at Costco in Eureka is $4.64.

  48. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 12:41 am

    But there IS a wider range of prices in Willits, ranging from $4.39 at Arco to $4.69 at Tower Mart.

    Whereas in Eureka, Costco is the lowest, with Renner as the runner up at $4.69 and everyone else at $4.77-$4.79.

    Meanwhile, in Redding, prices range from $4.29 to $4.80. Why anyone would still be going to the place charging $4.80 is beyond me.

  49. Dick
    October 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I know! Let’s get the US Army to invade a country where they have LOTS of oil, then we can take it and sell it for any price we want. . .oh, that’s right, we did already. Never mind.

  50. A pesky fact
    October 6, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Obama could waive a host of EPA additive requirements for this region, would drop prices some 25-30 cents in short order. Cali taxes account for another 30ish cents, iirc.

    It’s not chevron being hard on competition that keeps competition out. It’s the massive regulatory burden, tax burden, and capital expenditure burden associated with barging processed gasoline, along with building and maintaining the storage facility and distribution network.

    Gouging implies huge profits. The reason oil companies and Wal mart post profit in the billions us because their operating expenses (money they spent trying to make more money) are often in the hundreds of billions. Ex: So they spend 100 billion to make 105 billion, meaning 5 billion (5%) profit.

    As for actually dropping gas prices?

    More refining capacity state-and-nationwide. Gas really isn’t the sort of thing addressable on the county level.

    Oh, buy a plug in hybrid. They’re out now.

  51. October 6, 2012 at 7:38 am

    tra,

    I think you happened to catch a measurement between Willits and Eureka when prices were changing. The difference between the Willits typical prices and the Eureka price has been much greater, consistently, month after month. As for local gas station price competition, the gas station owners and/or staffers who were quoted in Ryan Burns’ article admitted that they have no interest in setting lower prices to gain higher volume — they were quoted as saying they checked every morning to see what the brand-name station down the street was charging, and, not being a major brand name, always set their prices a penny or two lower.

    Why doesn’t he drop prices to boost sales volume? We asked him what would happen if he undercut the competition by five cents per gallon. He said there’s simply no point. If any of the local stations tried it, “then everyone starts losing money, and no one can afford that.” Small, independent stations like his are just trying to make their 25 cents per gallon, he said, and as long as Humboldt/Peninsula’s price allows them to hit that target there’s no incentive to deviate.

    pesky fact,

    There are lots of reasons that California gas prices are higher than those outside of California, I agree. But there are only a few reasons that gas prices in Eureka are higher than those in Willits. Those are a hundred miles of additional distance from Martinez, a lack of price competition between stations and the ability of Chevron’s terminal to set its prices to gas jobbers at just below the cost to the jobbers of trucking gas up from Martinez. I think the latter behavior is fairly called gouging, and it results in much higher profits to Chevron than if a free market were functioning.

    As for buying a plug in hybrid, I think that’s a great idea for those who have the ability to drop 30 or 40 thousand dollars on a car, getting some back via tax credits. But most folks can’t do that. I also agree that car pooling is a great idea, but this is a low density county, and it doesn’t always work out for people. And bicycling is great, unless you are not in physical shape to bike yourself around.

    So, yes, there are all sorts of ways that SOME people could reduce their gas usage, and it would be ideal if people would take advantage of those approaches that are realistic for them. But it would also be nice if people didn’t have to pay an artificially higher price for gas in Eureka than they have to pay in Willits. Then, those who like the idea of artificially high gas prices can pay the 25 to 40 cent overcharge per gallon to an outfit that lobbies for the environment, rather than Chevron and a few local station owners.

    Dick,

    Thanks for your contribution, dick.

  52. October 6, 2012 at 7:39 am

    tra,

    You’re right and no I didn’t check – should know better. I received the email yesterday from a friend in Texas, who got his info. from Republican Rep. Kay Granger, also of Texas. Since this info. came from a politician I should definitely have checked.
    Thanks for setting the record straight.

  53. Mark Sailors
    October 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    We could pass a law that says it is illegal to charge more than 10 cents over the state average…

  54. Mark Sailors
    October 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Mitch,
    Do not buy a plug in electric car if you live in arcata or your fuel will be taxed at 45% above normal rates… That’s Arcata city council for your short sighted INITATIVE. Idiots.

  55. Mark Sailors
    October 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

    That’s = thanks…
    Freaking auto correct.

  56. October 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

    @6em,

    Sorry brother or sister, I didn’t mean to sound dismissive of your idea. Your idea is simple, inexpensive and might work to lower prices a bit, if it is true about the truck driver layovers being part of the cause. Your idea could be tried rather inexpensively to see if it works. I would be in favor of trying it. If it doesnt work we certainly lose little.

    What I was rolling my eyes at was the mental picture of our 4-1 “conservative” supes majority going into the business of subsidizing fuel for the masses. It just doesn’t seem doable.

    So your idea is worth trying. If you can talk them into it.

    Yes obviously building a coop or worker owned business is very difficult, no argument there.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  57. October 6, 2012 at 8:16 am
  58. SerfRider
  59. Commie pinko
    October 6, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Nationalize the industry like Venezuela, gas would be cheap to us citizens.

  60. Andy Onymous
    October 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Maybe Joe Bohnino knows what to do — has anyone else noticed that nasty blogger High Finance disappeared from comment sections around the time Joe announced he was running for city council?

  61. October 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Dear Commie,

    I basically agree that the United States oil industry should be nationalized, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. So, instead, I’d simply like to see something called “the free market” come into existence in the Humboldt area. That would mean price competition at the wholesale level, and price competition at the station level. Neither exists now — that statement really cannot be challenged, based simply on the following two facts:

    (1) there is only one terminal capable of receiving barged gas, which is by far the cheapest way of bringing gasoline into the County; and

    (2) the prices of gas stations that are open to the general public stay within a nickel of one another in this County, while they vary substantially everywhere else.

    There are a few exceptions, involving membership outfits like Costco and Renner, or the tribal casinos, which aren’t subject to all the State of California gasoline requirements.

    Renner’s prices to its members are slightly lower, among other reasons, because Renner does not accept credit cards. Costco’s prices to its members are slightly lower, because they use low priced gasoline to attract their members to their store.

  62. October 6, 2012 at 9:49 am

    It’s a complicated situation.

    Gas prices are high partly because of ndustry consolidation, where 30 years ago there were dozens of independent refiners in North Amerca now there are only a handful of corporations that own refineries. A monopsony. Yes the big oil must be broken up…….again. We need another Teddy Roosevelt to do that. Big banks, big insurance, big health care, big retail, big media etc etc all must be pulverised into human scale enterprises.

    One problem is that even if we build a separate barge facility here we would still need to purchase the fuel from Chevron to barge it up here.

    Also in Humboldt County, in the region as a whole, there has for 150 years been a colonial economy, Humboldt County has been an internal colony of the American Empire. This means that employment and the economy in general is largely centered in extraction industries or government. Colonial economies feature resource extraction and company stores. In Humboldt the extraction is mostly done. The timber is gone. The fish are gone. The gold is mostly gone.

    What’s left is water and a little bit of money. They are going to try to extract the water, and they are doing it already. Walmart, Chevron, and JP Morgan are here to extract what is left of the money and will ship it to Bentonville and other far places.

    As for the water let’s build some more breweries and export our water as a value added product, in the meantime creating some more decent jobs here. Breweries are a natural business for this area.

    As for the corporate parasites, we need to make them spend more money here and extract less of it. Making them pay higher wages is a start in that direction.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  63. The ghost of Tim McKay
    October 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Two sugggestions: 1. Move into town. 2. Walk or ride a bike.

  64. October 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Dear ghost,

    Both are excellent suggestions. Neither has anything to do with the question of whether the gasoline prices being charged in Humboldt County are fair, in the sense of being the result of a free market. Attitudes like yours are the reason I doubt the Northcoast Coop would ever become involved in helping to bring a free market to gasoline in Humboldt, and are among the reasons that many smart people no longer try to engage with the left.

    Thanks for your contribution.

  65. October 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    highboldtage writes:

    “As for the corporate parasites, we need to make them spend more money here and extract less of it. Making them pay higher wages is a start in that direction.”

    To cause Chevron to extract less money from Humboldt, there needs to be an alternative to paying Chevron’s Eureka terminal rates, and the gas station rates that are more or less imposed by Chevron or its franchisees. A $100 annual per capita injection into the local economy, spread evenly across all drivers, is nothing to sneeze at. But I agree that the solution requires forms of cooperation that are difficult to achieve in this area.

    That inability to cooperate is, I think, a large and generally unmentioned part of the reason Humboldt’s economy is unable to recover from the reduction in timber. I agree with those on the right who are worried that people with entrepreneurial ambition either enter the high-reward pot industry or leave for greener pastures. It’s a problem.

  66. textwrapper
    October 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    If the price of gas in Humboldt were truly a problem, wouldn’t see fewer gas-guzzlers on the road?

  67. October 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

    And people are still buying big trucks, RVs and SUVs.

  68. October 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Joel,

    I’ve just never understood that argument. The fact that many people have money to burn does not argue against seeking a fair price for gasoline. I think many people with left sympathies consciously or unconsciously seek to punish those who use “too much” gas. Well, OK, you could do that by raising gas taxes further, and at least the money could be used for government functions.

    It just seems foolish to me to support high prices that transfer money to Chevron from those people in Humboldt County who are stuck driving low mileage beaters, which is what I believe people are actually doing when they dismiss attempts to lower the price to competitive levels on the grounds that we should be using less gasoline.

  69. October 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I don’t see the argument. Isn’t it prudent to do both? Reduce consumption in general of fossil fuels and restore competitiveness to local markets? One would make life more sustainable and the other would make the economy more effiicient thus raising everyone’s standard of living.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  70. October 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Exactly, highboldtage, exactly. And it would be a substantial boost to the local economy — it’s just that it would be distributed widely among all motorists, at about $100 per motorist per year. That would have a great effect when taken over the whole economy, but isn’t enough to cause all that much excitement to any individual. It’s probably enough to cause some excitement to Chevron, or at least the small branch of Chevron operating the local terminal.

  71. Percy
    October 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    It would not even have to be a total government takeover of the oil industry, it could be something similar to a public utilities commission for fuel, like we have for the old hard wired phones. When that commission was working ATT was regulated and allowed to make a profit, while it payed living union wages to it’s employees, and the stock was a good investment. Cell phones are unregulated, hence the duplication of networks, inability to compare plans because they are all different and 2 year contracts with penalties. Regulation, which is the bane (no pun intended) of the Ayn Rand, free market crowd, is something a civilized society does when the free market is not working and monopolistic businesses gouge the public as we have here with the price of gas. Good luck getting something like that through in the current political climate.

  72. October 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Good luck getting something like that through in the current political climate.

    Oh, I doubt the government will be much help, at any level, although IMO the government is certainly the part of society in the best position to fight the needed battle.

    It’s because I don’t expect government action that I think it’s worth pursuing a cooperative.

    That effort, though, would need to be made with eyes open, and by people who understand what they would be getting into: that they would be stepping forward in order to break a monopoly and, in fighting that monopoly they might benefit everyone but would be unlikely to make any money and might lose some. I don’t know fleets of people like that, which is sad.

  73. October 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    It just seems foolish to me to support high prices that transfer money to Chevron…

    Yes, that would be foolish if someone were making that argument.

  74. HUUFC
    October 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Nationalize the oil industry? That is crazy. The system we have allows us to fill our fuel tank 24 hours a day seven days a week. Complain about the price fine but don’t go nuts. Remember the United States government is broke and deep in debt. $5.00 gasoline is the least of our problems.

  75. A pesky fact
    October 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Ignoring the regulatory nightmare (and endless local protesting), how much would it cost to build a secondary depot?

    And, what is the current market value of the current depot? How many gallons a year are actually passing through it?

    It might be substantively easier to form a co-op to purchase the existing facility (or lease it), contract the shipment of the gas, and purchase it in the bay.

    For that matter, how much is it costing wholesale in the bay? How much does it cost to ship it, etc, etc (not forgetting insurance and bonding).

    Not trying to kill ideas with questions, am honestly trying to evaluate the ideas. Lease the facility, set price lower, ideally market conditions would adjust. The problem, ofc, being that leasing such a facility would not be cheap… at all.

  76. October 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    HUUFC,

    I’ll tell you what. I promise not to nationalize the oil industry, OK? Hope you feel better.

  77. October 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    pesky fact,

    Thanks! Seriously, I think you are asking great questions, and the idea of buying the terminal from Chevron is one that I doubt has come up before.

    This can be a start: http://humboldt-dspace.calstate.edu/bitstream/handle/2148/62/TECH%20REPORT%20FINAL%207_12_05.pdf?sequence=1

    Gasoline consumption in 2003 in Humboldt County is estimated at 54.6 million gallons
    (California Department of Transportation, 2004a). This comprises approximately 0.4% of the State total. Diesel consumption is estimated at 16.8 million gallons (Parsons, 2005).

    I think, but do not know, that the vast majority of gasoline consumed in Humboldt comes by barge and is distributed from Chevron’s terminal.

    The terminal is described here: http://seaport.findthedata.org/l/4434/Chevron-Products-Co-Eureka-Terminal-Wharf

    The terminal has a total capacity of 105,000 barrels, approximately 4 or 5 million gallons.

    Putting that together with Humboldt usage, the terminal probably receives something like one delivery per month of 5 million gallons, or weekly deliveries of 1 million gallons. A typical tanker truck from Martinez would carry more like 10,000 gallons, or 1% or less of the size of a barge delivery.

    The terminal is described as having 11 storage tanks. If some of those storage tanks were owned by the County or a local business, and if there were equal access to the alternative business and its tanks, it would be possible to have true competition.

  78. October 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Also, pesky fact, I haven’t a clue what the cost of a petroleum terminal is. As for the wholesale price of gas out of Martinez, it’s dependent on your contract with Chevron, but Willits pricing provides proof that it’s low enough to lower prices here substantially, to about a dime above Willits pricing if you use trucks, or to Willits prices or below if you use barging.

    It is possible that Chevron could gather good publicity, or avoid bad publicity, by being cooperative with a venture to buy independent access to its terminal. I agree that would be far more realistic than having to build one. But first Chevron would have to understand that its present, highly profitable, Humboldt approach is endangered. That might require reducing the cost of trucked gasoline in Humboldt.

    One approach for reducing the cost of trucked gasoline in Humboldt is to operate a trucking program where one driver hauls trucks from Ukiah south for fillup back to Ukiah, and another truck or another driver hauls filled trucks from Ukiah to service stations here and returns them empty to Ukiah. The drivers would all be based in Ukiah and would work eight hour shifts, returning each day to Ukiah at the conclusion of their shift.

    Another approach to reducing prices at the local pumps would be for stations to offer lower prices to people using debit cards, as opposed to credit cards. That saves them seven to ten cents per gallon, but they keep the savings right now… another example of how there is no competitive market.

  79. A pesky fact
    October 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    The current regulatory environment likely precludes expanding the new facility, as well as building a new one in the coastal zone.

    In theory, it might be possible to build a competing terminal outside of coastal zone, but again, even a single storage tank (and the regulations associated) are not cheap.

    I’m iPhone bound, but I think if someone else did digging here … http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/gasoline/margins/index.php

    … They might be able to find out the yearly margin at the terminal. Terminals are expensive to operate, and it very well might be that the terminal breaks even, or even is a tax write off.

    So then there is the matter of gas from the terminal. How does it get to the pump? There is distribution, which seems relatively profitable. What, precisely, is the markup from distribution?

    Then there is the pump, where owners are making X per gallon. If your station is moving 1 million gallons a year, and you make 25 cents per gallon, that translate to 250K. Which is not that much. Not counting inside sales, that is barely enough to pay taxes, bills, insurance, and staffing for employees.

    In broad terms, it may well be there isn’t much fat to trim unless one is able to use various legal entities (co-op, 501xx, or governmental) to circumvent taxes.

    Btw, it’s okay for station owners to make 250k from selling 4.25 million worth of product.

  80. October 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I agree it’s fine for an owner to make 250K.

    But mostly, I think all the area’s gas stations are owned by a small number of people, not one but not one hundred, either, and probably closer to ten than to one hundred.

    The profits in gas stations in most part of the country come from ancillary sales.

    The link at #28 says the downtown Arcata Shell station pumps 80K gallons per month at 35 cent margin, and has 50K of sales from its store. And the Texaco on Samoa Blvd is claimed to sell 70K gallons per month at 35 cent markup and 50K per month from the store.

  81. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is the heart of the matter. Shipping the fuel in by barge is the most efficient way to do it. But there is only one entity, Chevron, with the infrastructure to do so. So Chevron only needs to set their prices at or slightly below what it costs to ship the fuel in by the less efficient means, tanker trucks. Since Chevron has a monopoly on the most efficient means of transporting the fuel here,they have the ability to inflate prices to an artificially high rate.

    I’m not crazy about the idea of subsidizing a rather inefficient means of transport — tanker trucks — in an attempt to get those who control the only infrastructure for the more-efficient means of transport — barges — to lower their prices to match the subsidized inefficient means of transport. Meanwhile I don’t think the volume of fuel sold here even comes close to what it would take to justify a pipeline. And rail service is a distant prospect, at best.

    So it seems to me that if there is to be any solution that actually works, it would have to involve barging. But I have no idea what that would look like. If Chevron is indeed making a tidy profit off the current arrangement, they would have little incentive to lease space to a competitor — governmental, non-profit, or for-profit.

    In theory a governmental or non-profit entity could set up a whole new terminal (and I suppose it wouldn’t necessarily need to be as large as the Chevron facility), but the capital outlay for that would be enormous. On the other hand, it seems like this approach could actually work, as it would actually get to the heart of the matter — the de facto monopoly on the shipment of fuel into Humboldt Bay.

    Of course the existence of a monopoly calls out for regulation, but I don’t know whether the county has the authority to do that, or whether that would fall to the state. And I don’t know which seems like a more insurmountable obstacle — raising the amount of money that would be required to build a separate facility to compete with Chevron, or attempting to get the government to actually fulfill it’s role in regulating the profits and practices of corporations that enjoy a monopoly to the extent that they can artificially inflate prices.

  82. A pesky fact
    October 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Yeah at those numbers the arcata shell basicly breaks even from selling gas, and keeps it’s doors open enabling the selling of snacks, cigs, booze(?) and rolling papers. Even though some folks dislike multiple-station ownership, that doesn’t alter the underlying economics. Renier and Winco are probably selling at the lowest prices that make the business economically justifiable.

    So the problem comes down to the terminal. What is the price in Martinez? What does it cost to ship it up here? What does it cost to ship 10,000 gallons up here by truck? And how much is the terminal selling it for?

    Once those questions are answered every economic piece of the puzzle will be in the thread.

    And what you’ll likely find? That once one estimates the cost of maintaining and operating the terminal (remember, insurance is HUGE), it will likely not at all be some huge price gouging affair.

    Overall operating cost of that facility may be upwards of 200 million a year. If they make 10 million profit, they’ve achieved a 5% ROI. Which is perfectly acceptable, and is only even possible because they get all the economy of scale advantages of a 200 billion dollar Corp.

  83. 713
    October 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    If chevron is running a 10% profit margin, how much do you think you could really save by using smaller economies of scale and less efficient transportation? seems to me if you are subsidizing a local operation you are taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other. I am skeptical you could even come close to matching chevron pricing. even if you bought the terminal, what makes you think you could get a good deal on the fuel? that might be one less headache for chevron to deal with. like pesky fact stated, it might be a necessary expense for them to deliver their product.

    If you want to encourage competition and lower the prices, build more refineries or use the same fuel the rest of the country does.

  84. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    “So the problem comes down to the terminal. What is the price in Martinez? What does it cost to ship it up here? What does it cost to ship 10,000 gallons up here by truck? And how much is the terminal selling it for?”

    I agree, this is the info that we’re currently missing, and that we would need to have in order to reach any solid conclusions about the degree to which Chevron is, or isn’t, making excessive profits due to it’s monopolistic position.

  85. What Now
    October 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    From “The Idiot Mitch”:
    “Yes, reducing car usage would be great. But that’s not the question at hand.”

    Right!
    Just how many petroleum wars, wild economic swings, and corporate and individual subsidies will it take to allow bloated obese americans to consume declining limited resources in perpetuity?
    These “high” prices are a symptom of a limited and nasicisstic national mindset.
    Seems akin to arguing how many apinheads can dance like angels.

  86. A pesky fact
    October 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Seems like the best thing that locals can do is pretty obvious.

    Vote Romney. Gas was 1.80 when Obama took over. He promised energy prices would skyrocket. And that’s what happened.

    What we’re experiencing is exactly what Obama promised.

    The problem isn’t Chevron. The problem is leftist policies being implemented, with the expected, planned, and promised effect.

  87. tra
    October 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    APF, Who do you think you’re kidding? Gas prices had dropped to a low at the end of Bush’s second term because the economy was in free-fall. So, yeah, if sending the economyinto a tailspin is how you want to reduce the price of gas, by all means vote for Romney.

    Meanwhile, Obama has exactly nothing to do with why gas is more expensive in California than it is other states, nor does he have anything to do with why gas is more expensive in Humboldt than elsewhere in California.

  88. October 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks, What Now.

    It would never have occurred to me that anything outside of Humboldt county might be involved in gasoline prices. I’m not aware that they are higher in Europe, and I certainly have never written that I believe much of the income tax burden should be replaced with a carbon tax, to keep us from destroying the planet.

    Further, I think it’s excellent that Eureka prices are forty cents higher than those in Willits. That’s a great environmental statement for us all to make.

    I think anyone who uses gasoline is evil.

    I think that every retired person ought to be moving to downtown Arcata and should be using bicycles to get around, because if they would do that, there would be no more war in the middle east, and no more flu.

    Fat people should slim down first, but that will be good for their health. And for people without legs, I’m all for subsidizing arm-powered bicycles. Let’s all create an industry here for that: I’d bet we can produce them for less than $5,000, and with all good old American parts. Or SOLAR powered bicycles!!!

    I’m also very happy that poor people who are just too dumb to have bought expensive hybrids (or, much, much better, fully electric cars that almost have half enough range to work in Humboldt County, and that are excellent advertisements for your environmental credentials) can be shafted by Chevron and the local station owners. It’s their fault that they are driving low mileage cars, and we should double the gas price so that they suffer properly.

    Your friend,
    The Idiot Mitch

  89. paul
    October 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    10,000 gallons on a truck?!?! Are you high? 8500 is all a truck can haul and still be legal on wieght. Gas that is.7500 diesel. Having no clue about how often or the cost of the barge, but rambling on about the cost to the price. The fact that you CONTINUE to ramble about how chevron has a monopoly on the base gas, and are wrong!! With all the websites you have offered I would think you could check what I am saying to be true or not. And it is true. I am in awe of how far some of these comments and theories have gone when most of these building blocks are flawed. It’s why I went too sleep last night. And why I will continue to check in here. But will bite my tongue as much as possible. Like I have all day. like I said last night, I am in NO way trying to stop someone from finding a better way. I too parked my gas rig in favor of my diesel that usually sits unless it is being used due to the spike in gas prices this week. But….to ramble on with falsehoods as the base argument is ridiculous and obviously lights my fuse.

  90. October 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    paul,

    Go back to your third grade math textbook and learn about rounding.

  91. October 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Yeah, yeah, nationalizing the oil industry would be crazy! It’s so much better to allow a few favored individuals reap trillions of dollars by exploiting the “National” resources. Oh stupid me, I had this crazy idea that the resources of the United States belonged to the citizens. Wow, thanks for bringing me back down to Earth. Whew! That was a close one, the very idea….our country’s resources used by the people of the country, what a crazy idea…what insanity! What unmitigated presumption!
    let’s see, Taxpayers paid for the exploration, development, transport, and for some reason, this really small group of people “Own” all of our resources. Petroleum, minerals, timber, water, land, fish, air, space…..bunch of serfs arguing for the Divine Rights of Kings. See, I don’t believe in that. Kings are thieves. Resource extraction companies obtained their ownership of our resources the old fashioned way; through corrupt officials in the government who signed away the public’s property to their buddies. Today we call that “Privitization”, when is should be called: “Pirate-azation”
    The problem with nationalizing anything is that we can’t trust this government to do anything with honesty and loyalty for the people of the US. This is why Neo-Socialism won’t work here. Too many thieves in high places. Democracy depends too much on integrity and patriotism. The real kind. The one that involves selflessness. Anyone remember that kind? I didn’t think so.

  92. paul
    October 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Mitch. Come to the real world where most of the rest of us live. Where being 15-25% off on your facts you are basing your theories on makes you an idiot.

  93. October 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks, Paul. I’ll bet we can produce arm-powered bicycles for less than $5,125.12. But they might wiegh too much.

  94. paul
    October 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    That is the FIRST valid point you have made yet!! BTW…I didn’t start the idiot thing. Someone else did. But it sure fits. If you want to dream, and get others motivated to dream with you. It helps to be able to float on a boat without a bunch of holes in it before you leave the dock. Just sayin.

  95. October 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Paul,

    I leave you with two links:

    http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/34/95502/

    http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/33/california/mendocino/willits/

    There is a difference in gas prices between Eureka and Willits.

    No matter how bad an idiot I am, and I agree it’s pretty bad, the difference in gas prices remains higher than the extra cost of trucking gas to Eureka as opposed to Willits.

    And now, I’m off to have a lovely rest of the day, which is what I wish for all of you. Tra la.

  96. Not A Native
    October 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    OK Mitch, I think you’re full of shit and haven’t a clue on this subject. but I’ll make a suggestion that’s intended to get you off your ass and actually DO something instead of theorizing.

    You’ve identified “cooperation” as the stumbling block preventing all your absolutely correct and accurate ideas from coming to fruition. So here’s the deal. Go to Renner and get an account for “Mitch’s Fleet”. They will give you as many cards as you like. Now market your fleet, signing up all the deserving gouged locals who you convince that it worth their while to save 5-10 cents a gallon at Renner stations. Figure out a way to make sure they don’t stiff you, because you’ll be liable for the entire bill from Renner. Now, in a year when your fleet is built up and your group is buying thousands of gallons a week, you’ll have market power to drive a better bargain with Renner or local stations, or maybe truck gas up from Willits or maybe raise capital for that barge. But remember, you’re not making a dime on all this, all the savings go to your fleet of cooperators who you’re helping because that just the kind of compassionate humanitarian guy you are. BTW, I might join, but maybe not. I already have a Renner card.

  97. October 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Mitch, Paul is right. But who am I to stand against you? Although I too had some inside information on how things in the fuel industry works.

    Mitch :
    Thanks, paul. I agree I am flawed, but I doubt I’m as flawed as Chevron. Good night.

  98. October 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    That comment is truly uncalled for Mitch.

    Mitch :
    paul,
    Go back to your third grade math textbook and learn about rounding.

  99. MPG
    October 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Just a little info on the transportation options for fuel that is delivered up here folks. While I don’t know exactly what the Chevron terminal passes on to all the different distributors in terms of transportation cost of the fuel that they receive at the terminal, I can tell you that the logistics of barged fuel is by far the least expensive method of shipping the product to our area. A couple of fun facts: The barges that are currently used to bring product to the terminal have a maximum capacity of 85,000 barrels (that’s barrels, not gallons, there are 44 gallons to the barrel). The average load that comes in is between 50,000 to 65,000 barrels. There is, on average, 3 shipments per month. Now, even if a truck can bring 10,000 gallons per load, they just can’t compete in the volume department. At 10,000 gallons per truck that would be between 220 to 280 trucks to equal 1 barge load. Actually, I tend to think, as was mentioned earlier, that the max that these trucks can haul is 7,500 gallons per load.
    So, the most efficient method of transportation is already being used. The only other option for more volume would be a tanker. Obviously, that is simply not on option due to many factors. The least being that the consumption potential based on our overall population is quite small when compared to even the smallest California metro area.

  100. October 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Joe,

    You are right.

    Paul,

    I apologize.

    Not a Native,

    I find myself on the toilet at least once daily, and shit comes out. So I concede your point. By the way, I hope it’s not rude to ask whether you mean “Not a Native American” or “Not Originally From Humboldt.” It’s always seemed a particularly negative way to identify oneself.

    I have both a Renner card and a Costco card, but it seems a bit pompous to refer to my family’s two cars as Mitch’s fleet.

    I used to think of myself as compassionate but, in any event, that doesn’t really apply on this issue. I’d just like not to be overcharged for gasoline.

    I have no interest in doing the hard and unrewarding work of putting together a gasoline coop. I admire those who might be willing.

    For mysterious reasons, I enjoy talking, and blogging is a convenient way to do that when no one else is in the room. That is pretty much the end of my interest in this issue, as is the case with many others..

    Finally, if you think Humboldt is blessed with great cooperators, I can only admire your opinion.

    All,

    If gasoline at the pump averages thirty cents higher in Humboldt than in Willits, that means that an 8,500 gallon truckload (thanks, Paul) somehow increases in value by $2,550 by taking the 67.4 mile, 1 hour and 19 minute trip — thus sayeth Google — from Willits to Garberville. The price then stabilizes from Garberville through to the Oregon border. It’s all very mysterious to me, and I don’t know at which mile marker the extra $2,550 gets added, but I concede I am neither a petroleum economist, a gas station expert, nor a trucker. In fact, it’s news to me that diesel isn’t the same weight as gasoline.

    Your friend,
    The Idiot Mitch
    a/k/a Quickdraw McGoogle

  101. Commie pinko
    October 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks MPG, good info, and thanks QdMcG for bringing up the topic. We are screwed.
    But I do apportion some of my rage to the richman’s sport of stock and future speculation, which, according to one writer, accounts for about a 1/3 of the barrel price at any given time.

    Converting one’s vehicle to natural gas might be a longterm alternative, if you have the means. The US is awash in natural gas and will be for a long time.

    ps. Venezuelans pay 12 cents a gallon for gas. (one site said 18 cents/gallon)

  102. October 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Mitch, you’re NOT wrong about the ripoff, specially when the fuel is comes from and is delivered instate. Problem is the fuel that comes into the Eureka area and Crescent City area mostly comes by barge through the Eureka Terminal. Crescent City gets some fuel from Oregon. While Mendocino County fuel is trucked in. Different shipping costs. If its cheaper to barge in the fuel then why the extra cost at the pump?

  103. October 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    For those of you that haven’t figured this out yet, this is all about the looting of the American people. Excluding the one percent uber rich ruling oligarchy that’s doing the looting, that is.

  104. October 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Extra cost at the pump may be obscured somewhere in the taxes. As of October 1 state and fed. tax in California is 77.1 – with the fed. rate to increase next spring. California sales tax rates applied are a weighted average based upon county population. How much more goes for local tax? Connecticut is the only state higher in state/fed tax @ 80.6

    http://www.api.org/Oil-and-Natural-Gas-Overview/Industry-Economics/Fuel-Taxes.aspx

    I think it’s interesting that everything else we purchase has the sales tax separated before the total cost.

  105. Thorstein Veblen
    October 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Ride a bike!! Or…………… walk!!!!

    It’s all about demand, baby!!!!

  106. October 7, 2012 at 7:34 am

    #81 through #84 seemed to be on track. I agree it would be very valuable to know more about the Chevron terminal and the distribution network from the Chevron terminal. Unfortunately, I’ve found it impossible to get that sort of information, although I’ve tried off and on since Ryan Burns’ piece appeared in July. If anyone has parts of the puzzle, you’d be providing a service by posting it here.

    And for those who insist everyone is just scraping by and no one is gouging, I’ll say it again:

    (1) The price in Humboldt has averaged thirty cents higher than the price in Willits, for years.

    (2) That means that an 8,500 gallon truck load increases in price by $2,550 by taking a one hour and nineteen minute, 67.4 mile trip from Willits to Garberville.

    (3) Barging is less expensive than trucking.

    You add those three facts together, and either Humboldt is far less efficient than Willits at distributing gasoline, or someone is gouging. Or both, I suppose.

  107. 713
    October 7, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Mitch, the person who used to own the gas station in legget told me that he had it trucked in from south, but it wasn’t always cheaper. if you can make 2500 for driving a few hours a day, i say go for it.

  108. October 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I’m extremely tempted to do so, 713, but I keep reminding myself that in these situations, the person who tries to break the monopoly generally gets shafted from both sides, as the monopolist drops the price to watch them dance. I’m pretty sure I saw the dynamic at the airport when I first moved here, when a tiny airline serving San Jose was crushed by United’s dropping its fares.

    I do not know how you can account for the three facts at #106 and not reach the conclusion that Humboldt is being gouged by anti-competitive tactics.

    If any of the three facts are not true, I hope someone will clarify.

  109. SerfRider
    October 7, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Abandon all hope……

    AL PUMPA WARNING

  110. A pesky fact
    October 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Mitch,

    If I may, you might still be thinking about it wrong.

    There are a finite supply of gas trucks, and drivers, for starters. The extra distance from willits may create a catch 22, where it makes more economic sense to drop the load in willits, turn around, return to terminal and move another load. OR, go to humboldt, hit your 8 hour limit for the day, etc. Opportunity cost can really be a beast. Additionally, can double tankers (those that are basicly 2 full sized tankers instead of 1) make it up to Willits? I’m pretty sure that they are incapable of making it through Richardson Grove.

    Volume is always king. So there is a very real possibility of a significant opportunity cost lurking somewhere in the numbers.

    Then there is the matter of speed of consumption and holding overhead. It’s not cheap. Safeway in willits may be using their own cash to hold overhead whenever it’s delivered (or even buying quarterly/yearly in bulk), whereas Ma and Pa may be taking delivery once a month, on credit from the distributor. Increased costs start adding up fast.

    Finally (and I have no idea if this is true or not) we may be using a different EPA mixture.

    ALSO, to the above posters who have clarified about barges and trucks, carrying capacity, etc, TY.

  111. October 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

    pesky fact,

    I don’t doubt that some, much, or all of what you are outlining is correct. But there’s the thing — in the absence of monopoly-based fear, someone would be able to do what 713 mentions; make very good money by moving stuff from Willits to Garberville/Fortuna/Eureka. It still seems like the three facts I list force a conclusion that something illegal is going on.

    Above, I threw out the idea that if Humboldt wanted to get out from under the current problem that our distance requires overnights by truckers, one solution would be a relay service based in Ukiah (or anywhere between 1/3 and 2/3 the distance from Martinez to Eureka), with one or more drivers looping between Martinez and Ukiah and one or more drivers looping between Ukiah and Humboldt gas stations.

    If, for example, a Humboldt business and a gas provider in Willits worked together, the Humboldt business would be able to increase the Willits provider’s volume and purchasing power in exchange for the Willits provider buying on behalf of the Humboldt business. It would then be the task of the Humboldt provider to put in the relay leg from Willits to Eureka.

    If government were serious about protecting us from monopoly, or from the small local gas cartel, such a business could be started without the various risks that now exist.

    But there’s little benefit to anyone in government to protect such a business, and I’m guessing there’s a good deal of benefit to government from protecting the existing businesses. If it were something other than (hold up a cross to ward off the evil spirit) gasoline, a pol could get some credit for fighting the monopoly practices. At least that’s my opinion and analysis.

  112. A pesky fact
    October 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I do not disagree, which is why I left your assertions unchallenged.

    Merely trying to indicate other serious factors that might be at play in creating the dynamic.

    And then, I go back a few posts. The California energy link may well provide the profit margin of the local terminal.

    And that terminal may be costing them 200 million year to operate. And if they are clearing 20 cents per gallon markup, that translates into 10-15 million a year profit after operating expenses.

    Which is a 5-7% pre-tax ROI.

  113. October 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

    713 :
    Mitch, the person who used to own the gas station in legget told me that he had it trucked in from south, but it wasn’t always cheaper. if you can make 2500 for driving a few hours a day, i say go for it.

    I’ve always wondered if a tank truck driver could make money bringing gas up here and selling it from his truck? I got the idea from back when I’d go up on forest fires while in the National Guard. There’d be truckers who would contract with the Forest Service to supply gas. They’d park somewhere and you’d drive up and they’d fill up your tank (assuming you were on the fire crews).

    I realize those guys got paid big bucks to do that, but could a guy do it on his own? Bring a large tanker with a couple pumps and nozzles up- same as they had during the fires-, park somewhere and put up a sign with the gas price. There wouldn’t be a middleman between him and the customer so that might shave some of the cost.

    The biggest problem would be government, no doubt. All kinds of fees and permits required and I’m sure local gas dealers would encourage as many fees and permits as possible. But we have a perfect and safe place for something like that: The old Eureka Truck Terminal on Broadway. The guy could come up, park there, sell his gas and drive home. There’s room for multiple trucks there. Could they make money doing it?

  114. October 7, 2012 at 9:46 am

    …I’m guessing there’s a good deal of benefit to government from protecting the existing businesses.

    And what might those benefits be?

  115. October 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

    The biggest problem would be government, no doubt.

    Of course, Fred. The government is the cause of high fuel prices here, as it is the cause of all of our ills.

  116. A pesky fact
    October 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    It would be illegal for a tanker truck driver to try doing that solo. For firefighting purposes or somesuch there may be exceptions.

    It is required that gas be purchased from a licensed etc distributor and then be dispensed at licensed etc stations.

    There may even be legal hard caps on distributorships per region in Cali, similar to alcohol.

  117. Eager Entrepreneur
    October 7, 2012 at 10:10 am

    “If gasoline at the pump averages thirty cents higher in Humboldt than in Willits, that means that an 8,500 gallon truckload (thanks, Paul) somehow increases in value by $2,550 by taking the 67.4 mile, 1 hour and 19 minute trip — thus sayeth Google — from Willits to Garberville.”

    Whoa I figure I am gonna make a lotta money!

    I figure I can lease a tanker and driver for $150 an hour, drive and load unload time maybe 6 hours round trip, fuel cost maybe $75.00 so I figure i can clear a grand a trip for myself. I’m not greedy. Do you think there is a market for off the books tankloads of fuel in Humboldt? This only works as long as the prices are high in Eureka and lower in Willits but no worries I think they are gonna stay high for a long time. The hippies have their tax free dope we have our tax free fuel. Rich people call this market arbitrage and it is a good thing for everyone.

    I mean when you think about it really deeply. Barge shipping is so much cheaper than truck shipping that fuel in Humboldt should be *cheaper* than fuel in Willits.

    Capiche?

  118. October 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Fred Mangels,
    Now that’s thinking outside the box! I like it. There will always be PERSONS who will try
    to assert authority over us, that they simply don’t have. It would take a mass amount of
    research and paperwork to prove it, but I think it could be done. “The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others.” Jefferson
    The paperwork/docs. is one thing, the approach is what brings the desired result.
    To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, sacrificed, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is morality. – from – General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century.

    Have we reached the ‘tipping point?’

  119. October 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

    A pesky fact :
    It would be illegal for a tanker truck driver to try doing that solo.

    There may even be legal hard caps on distributorships per region in Cali, similar to alcohol.

    Sounds like a problem with government to me. Heck. What should be wrong with a guy with even a small tank truck filling up at Willits Safeway and reselling the gas here, assuming it was worth it to him?

    As far as caps on distributorships, I don’t know, but there are at least some business protocols that seem to lead to higher prices.

    Years ago, during one of the big gas price spikes, I was speaking with another guy filling his car at a Renner Cardlock station. He was saying he knew whatever Renner it was that ran Renner Petroleum and asked him why our gas was so much more expensive here. He was told it’s run like a cartel with certain dealers buying from certain distributors. Certain distributors charged so much and that’s just the way it was done.

    The guy that handled my IRA (back when I had one) kind of confirmed that. He knew a lot about all things business in the area. We were discussing gas prices and I brought up the cartel thing. He said he agreed and there’s no reason Renner shouldn’t buy his gas from ******* distributorship who sold it cheaper. He didn’t comment further.

    I guess it does work that way. It’s just the way it’s done.

  120. mod_powers_suck
    October 7, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Mod. Powers Suck. Lame. Dman you Mitch.

  121. October 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Joel,

    You’re curious what the benefits might be to local politicians for protecting a monopoly, or a select group of people that are able to make a lot of money in a business, as opposed to opposing them and supporting a goo-goo citizen’s group? I’ll leave it to your imagination.

  122. October 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Nothing in moderation, as far as I can tell.

  123. Thorstein Veblen
    October 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    A guy could make even more money with Fred’s tanker idea if he didn’t spend any money on being safe, maybe just a big plastic water tank in the back of a 1 ton pick-up, gravity feed through a nozzle monitor, etc. And the cheaper the truck, the more money could be made. Save by not replacing brakes or tires, don’t buy pricey fire extinguishers, etc. Save by hiring illegals to drive, if it blows up, well, who cares if relatives in Oaxaca are sad? If others are hurt, well, they can sue the operator if they can find him/her and his/her assets, thats how to weed out bad operators. Get the government off our backs. Free, unregulated markets are the bomb!!!!

  124. October 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Sure. All or nothing when it comes to government, isn’t it Thorstein? Give a guy a chance to make some money and you know he’ll just try and abuse it or rip us off. Won’t he?

  125. October 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    In Fred’s libertarian utopia, he’d be begging for alms on the street.

  126. October 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    You’re curious what the benefits might be to local politicians for protecting a monopoly…?

    No, I’m not. I just wondered what dark forces you were alluding to that receive a “good deal of benefit … from protecting the existing businesses.”

  127. A pesky fact
    October 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    And Brown allows statewide switch to winter mix early, to drop price at pump.

    That will shave 40ish cents. Abandon the summer/winter schema and you’ll drop it an additional 10 cents.

    Get King Barry to waive EPA additive rules for another 50 cents off the price.

    That’s 1 dollar shaved right there. Drop the uberfoolish 70 cents per gallon tax and it starts looking even better.

  128. Thorstein Veblen
    October 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Naw, we’re cool Fred. I’m just more wary of the dark side of capitalizm. Sometimes there’s good reason for regulation. Even Romney says so. At least now he does.

    Most ranches and many rural properties have tanks and have fuel delivered, seems to work and is more affordable than hauling your own. To bring that into denser populated areas, or parking a tanker in front of Safeway, just seems like an accident waiting to happen.

  129. October 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Thorstein: Safeway already has tankers parked by its gas station. That’s how their fuel is delivered. Wonder how much their driver could make if he took off with the gas and drove up here to sell it?

  130. October 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Who owns the raw oil?

  131. Thorstein Veblen
    October 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I give up

  132. Benjamin Netanyahu
    October 8, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Ragheads.

  133. October 8, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I realize we all live in the real world. But can’t we even start a conversation about why we allow a few individuals to own our nation’s resources? We just can’t continue on like this. We need to take over the energy resources of the country and take the profit motive out it. Look at the obscene profits generated every quarter. I just don’t understand why people stand still for this exploitation. Say what you want about Venezuela, But we need some of that ideology here. It’s like Americans are so used to aristocrats taking everything and then selling it back to us, that we can’t even imagine taking control of our resources and our own future.
    Please don’t start with all the propaganda about how the noble oil companies “found” the oil. Or how if you want to know the history of energy production in America you should watch the new series on History channel about how Morgan, Carnegie, DuPont and Vanderbilt, “built” America. Gawd! It makes a person want to vomit.
    It is pure corruption, bribery, dishonesty and basically: treason. what is happening. Lets take Alaska as an introductory model. If Citizens of the US are the true owners of the resources of the country (this can be debated.) Then why do we allow ourselves to be exploited so few, just a few out the millions of us; are able to “own” our oil, and our timber, and our gold, and our water, and our air, and our land, and basically our lives?
    Are all of us really such slaves? Serfs loyal to some king? Why? My allegiance is to the constitution and the people, why should people show allegiance to thieves who grow fat on exploiting resources that are supposed to belong to all of us.
    We have become an empire of bribery and corruption.
    All I know is nothing is ever going to change until the “Tread on me all you want Mr. Billionaire.” mentality changes.

  134. October 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

    moviedad,
    Well said! The game is rigged beyond any wildest imagination, and we’ve all been had. One only has the rights that one can assert. In other words, it’s a do-it-yourself gig. What most of the people do not overstand is the ‘U.S. Citizen’ part. One has to realize what was happening when the un-ratified 14th Amendment slave words were put into place. On the passport application there is a box to check for Non-Citizen National. This takes you out of the FED jurisdiction, and you become a state citizen. It takes documentation attached to the passport application to do this. I sent mine to Hillary Clinton -Secretary of State – NOT secretary of nation. It takes about 5 weeks to receive your passport.
    Becoming sovereign is not an event. It’s a journey. A way of life.

  135. jr
    October 8, 2012 at 10:03 am

    The price of a gallon of regular at the Chevron station in Brookings is $4.19. This is at least 60 cents cheaper than Humboldt and Del Norte counties. They also pump the gas for you.

  136. Walt
    October 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    You said a mouthful, md. The answer to Mitch’s question is “Bupkis.” They control the game, and, to the extent we participate, by voting, driving, paying taxes, etc there can be only one winner: The Corporatocracy. People have been asking about the Chevron monopoly (and there IS evidence they dictate the prices locals charge), but the only people who know how the game is rigged are the folks who have an investment in it. . .and they ain’t saying. So “investigations” and alternative suggestions come and go, and the system goes on. So the only real solution is: if you don’t like paying what they charge, don’t drive.

  137. jr
    October 8, 2012 at 10:12 am

    …..Or move to Oregon.

  138. October 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Do you know why?

    jr :
    The price of a gallon of regular at the Chevron station in Brookings is $4.19. This is at least 60 cents cheaper than Humboldt and Del Norte counties. They also pump the gas for you.

  139. October 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

    moviedad, it’s all about the looting of America – I keep repeating. The dollar, no thanks to the war debt and the FED have made the value of a dollar a hair’s breadth away from total collapse. Attack Iran the US will and all the rest of this BS talk about politics, the election, corporations, who owns the oil, sovereignty, etc. becomes irrelevant.

  140. October 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

    The refinery problems are the major cause. California once had 14 refineries producing the state’s ‘unique blend’ of gasoline. That number declined to 12, with 4 of those being shut down for maintenance. Three of the four are in the bay area. (This is as of May). Because California’s unique fuel blend requirements, motorists can rely only on California refineries to correct any fuel shortage. We can’t borrow from our next door neighbors in Arizona or Nevada the way other states can.

  141. jr
    October 8, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Joe Blow: Oregon gas is cheaper because they do not sell the reformulated gas for the California market and also because there are less taxes for the consumer to pay.

  142. October 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Joe Blow,
    The ‘fault’ clearly rests on We the People’s shoulders. And sir, sovereignty is NEVER irrelevant. If we can’t self-govern, then why are we here?

  143. A pesky fact
    October 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    It seems there is a consensus.

    Voting for Romney will allow 10-12 million Americans to obtain highly paid jobs harvesting resources here and now, while also ushering in an era of nationwide fuel standards and constructing of new refinieries.

    With any luck, we’ll stop sending the same clowns to Sacramento, so that we can finally tap the 500 billion dollars of easily accessible oil and gas here in Cali.

  144. October 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Good question? I don’t think very many people understand the correlation between the two, sovereignty and self rule. The American people haven’t had self rule for a long, long time. They only believe they do and anyone can believe anything and think it’s true. I get your point, though. Sovereignty IS the paramount issue and always has been with me too.

    Forest Queen :
    Joe Blow,
    The ‘fault’ clearly rests on We the People’s shoulders. And sir, sovereignty is NEVER irrelevant. If we can’t self-govern, then why are we here?

  145. October 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    That was the same crap pumped out about Ronald Reagan and we all know what that started – the looting, for those of you that don’t know or reject history.

    A pesky fact :
    It seems there is a consensus.
    Voting for Romney will allow 10-12 million Americans to obtain highly paid jobs harvesting resources here and now, while also ushering in an era of nationwide fuel standards and constructing of new refinieries.
    With any luck, we’ll stop sending the same clowns to Sacramento, so that we can finally tap the 500 billion dollars of easily accessible oil and gas here in Cali.

  146. October 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    That’s right. Cheaper and better gas. Better MPG too.

    jr :
    Joe Blow: Oregon gas is cheaper because they do not sell the reformulated gas for the California market and also because there are less taxes for the consumer to pay.

  147. 06em
    October 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I love it. Vote for the adventure capitalist and we’ll all get magical petroleum ponies who poop good jobs and Real California Fuel! Cuz that’ll be fuel we residents here in Cali own, not some giant multinational corp like BP or Chevron or … wait … what??!!!!

  148. Law & Order
    October 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    A convincing case has been made here in this thread over the last several days that there exists a criminal price fixing consipiracy that has fleeced the consumers of Humboldt for years. How many millions $? We know who did it and how it is being done.

    Will DA Gallegos investigate and prosecute? That is the question. If he doesn’t you will gain some knowledge of the place you dwell.

  149. jr
    October 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Law and Order: What about the Grand Jury? Why hasn’t this august body done an investigation into the matter?

  150. October 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    jr,
    We haven’t had a Grand Jury since 1956. Apparently Linda Atkins knows this as her comment of August 26 states: “Problem is California hasn’t had a Grand Jury since 1956 . . and they know it!!! As soon as I knew it, last December, I made a trip to Eureka to find the members and tell them. I was told that I’d be invited to one of their meetings – but that didn’t happen.

    We have to do this for ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us.

  151. October 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Mitch :
    Above, I threw out the idea that if Humboldt wanted to get out from under the current problem that our distance requires overnights by truckers, one solution would be a relay service based in Ukiah (or anywhere between 1/3 and 2/3 the distance from Martinez to Eureka), with one or more drivers looping between Martinez and Ukiah and one or more drivers looping between Ukiah and Humboldt gas stations.
    If, for example, a Humboldt business and a gas provider in Willits worked together, the Humboldt business would be able to increase the Willits provider’s volume and purchasing power in exchange for the Willits provider buying on behalf of the Humboldt business. It would then be the task of the Humboldt provider to put in the relay leg from Willits to Eureka.

    The thought occurs: and what if there were the recovered railroad?

  152. October 9, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Not specific to Humboldt, but a Wall Street Journal article on California gas prices:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443768804578038674197901726.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h#articleTabs%3Darticle

  153. Law & Order
    October 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

    If Paul Gallegos does not act on this information as presented and discussed here and in the Ryan Burns article then he is not fit to be District Attorney.

  154. October 9, 2012 at 8:35 am

    There have been Grand-Juries in Humboldt County every year since forever.

  155. October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am

    After wandering around my usual blogs: Sohum Parlance, Common Dreams, Lost Coast Outpost…I am struck by the uninformed passion of the posters. Great sweeping accusations of Obama’s Muslim connections, Romney’s history as a “Self-made-man” what this means for me is that the media has only one job; to misinform. and it’s doing that job very well. People on both sides of the fence have nothing but rumor and flat-out lies to use in their arguments.
    Personally I don’t believe in conspiracies; I believe in policies. With the policies in place against the common working person, there’s no need for conspiracies.
    But the “Stockholm-syndrome” is rampant. People are willing to fight to the death to prevent any benefit from coming their way. Why? Why do people believe the aristocracy has a right to our resources? Why do they get favored status by the government? A dollar a year no-bid contracts to extract a trillion dollars worth of oil and gas, with not limit on what they’re allowed to charge the people for their own resources?
    I grew up surrounded by WWII veterans. So I guess I’m infected with an “American” ideology that is totally against anyone getting special treatment. And that’s what we have; special treatment for the wealthy, and harsh treatment for the rest of us.
    These favored sons of the ruling class are stealing the property of the people. And the people who are supposedly in place to stop them, are them.
    So yeah, nationalize the oil. Go back to public education. Bring back good ol’ American isolationism to protect US jobs. Stop greed from destroying democracy.

  156. firesidechet
    October 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Does anyone know if there is any truth to the claim that the Techron additive helps to counteract the negative effects of methanol on an engine?

  157. October 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

    moviedad,
    Conspiracy means two or more joined to do a wrongful act. ‘Conspiracy’ in modern terms became an open secret years ago. Policy/ police. The word democracy is not in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, for good reason.
    “The only thing of news in this world, is the history you don’t know.”
    Harry Truman

  158. October 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Law & Order,
    “A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims and he wears their face and their arguments, he speaks to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. The traitor is the plague.”
    Marcus Tullius Cicero

  159. October 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

    moviedad,
    We can’t correct a lie if we all believe it. When I say Grand Jury I mean a true de jure, common law Grand Jury. Not the de facto impersonators of today. A common law Grand Jury of yesteryear, if they found the person guilty, handed out a true bill, was the jury and determined the guilt or innocence. No STATE BAR union members with their allegiance to a foreign jurisdiction were permitted in the room (unless they were the ones being tried). There are no benefit/privileges such as jail and/or penalty fines $ at common law. If they found the person guilty, that person would do that little dance that’s done at the end of a common law rope. American courts were originally set-up to punish the commercial trade – – not kidnap the people for resisting being kidnapped by the uninformed.

  160. 713
    October 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    “A dollar a year no-bid contracts to extract a trillion dollars worth of oil and gas, with not limit on what they’re allowed to charge the people for their own resources?”

    I believe the oil industry pays for the government 12% of the value.

  161. WhatNow
    October 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Moviedad, #155 post is excellent.
    i copied and mailed to some friends, primarily those who seem to think that a candiudate with “r” behind it’s name stands for something other than “retrograde.”
    I also directed them to the last link I had for YOUR blog which is coming up as an error for some reason.
    Thank You!

  162. October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    What gives some persons the right to rule others? When the North American revolutionaries set out to justify their secession from the British Empire, they declared among other things: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Political legitimacy presents a multitude of difficulties when we move from the realm of theoretical abstractions to that of practical realization.
    I have often had occasion to protest that I haven’t even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it.
    Here’s the deal:
    I, (a would-be ruler), the party of the first part, promise:
    (1) To stipulate how much of your money you will hand over to me, as well as how, when, and where the transfer will be made. You will have no effective say in the matter, aside from pleading for my mercy, and if you fail to comply, my agents will punish you with fines, imprisonment (caged), and in the event of your persistent resistance – death.
    (2) To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question. You will have no effective say in determining the content of these rules, which will be so numerous, complex, and in many cases beyond comprehension that no human being could conceivably know about more than a handful of them. Yet, if you should fail to comply with any of them, I will feel free to punish you to the extent of the ‘law’ made by me and my confederates.
    (3) To provide for your use, on terms stipulated by me and my agents, so-called public goods and services. Although you may place some value on a few of these goods and services, most will be of little or no value to you, and some you will find utterly abhorrent.
    In no event will you have any effective say over the goods and services I provide.
    (4) In the event of a dispute between us, judges beholden to me for their appointment and salaries will decide how to settle the dispute. You can expect to lose in these settlements, if your case is heard at all.

    In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits and privileges,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:
    (5) To shut-up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

    Such a deal! Can we really imagine that any sane one of us would consent to it?

    Voluntary compliance. It’s all about choice.

  163. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Why change now, blame Renner or Rex…that has always been your excuse..

  164. October 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    … blame Renner or Rex…

    Or whatever factors Forest Queen is babbling on about.

  165. October 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Joel Mielke,
    Wow, now you’re mixing Anonymous and me.

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Bernard Baruch

  166. October 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I’m pretty sure that Mr. Baruch wasn’t talking to you.

  167. October 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Joel,

    Against all odds, we must learn to dialogue, or die. On a whole-system framework we are all connected; we are all implicated. None of us is without ego, but harm comes only when we surrender to it. This is no simple story of others’ villainy versus our virtue. But one thing is clear: if we would learn to dialogue deeply with others, the story would change. If we were to learn that listening to each other was the key to opening each others’ hearts, we would listen until there was peace on earth.

  168. October 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    This thread is about the high cost of fuel in Humboldt County, not about “opening each others’ hearts,” consent to being governed, and “a whole-system framework.”

    “We are all connected,” more or less by the topic.

  169. October 11, 2012 at 6:52 am

    He who leaves the battlefield first loses by default.

  170. October 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

    He who leaves the battlefield first loses by default.

    She who spouts nonsense and demands respect will be disappointed.

  171. October 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Respect has nothing to do with demand.

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