U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) investigates gasoline price irregularities

By:  Gregg Laskoski

If asked to name the states where gas prices are highest many of us could easily name Hawaii, New York, California and Connecticut, where notoriously steep taxes keep gas prices extremely high, but most of us would probably overlook Vermont, which has the sixth highest average price of gasoline in the U.S.

Frankly, it's puzzling because Vermont's combined gasoline tax (44.5 cents per gallon) puts it among the lowest tax rates of the states populating the list of the 10 highest gas price averages. So why are Vermont's retail prices so high?

That's what Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, wants to know. He's especially interested in learning why some distributor-owned-retail operations in northwestern Vermont sell gasoline for 30 cents per gallon more than the stores they own in other parts of Vermont. He notes that the three largest gasoline distributors in northwestern Vermont own more than 50 percent of the c-stores and gas stations there. Senator Sanders is investigating further. He gave GasBuddy an exclusive interview yesterday to discuss the problem in Vermont.

"This issue interests me because we're in the middle of a recession; I live in a rural state and a lot of our people travel long distances to work and if they're getting ripped off at the gas pump it's simply is money coming out of their pay check and in many cases that's money they can ill afford," Sen. Sanders said.

"So we want to make sure, from a national level down to the local level, that people do not get ripped off on what is for many people a basic necessity; you have to get to work -- you need gas in your gas tank and for many people you don't have a lot of choice about it.

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