It turns out that geography plays a major role in determining gasoline prices. According to NPR, Phoenix suffers from much worse air quality than Tucson, a malady largely attributed to its geographical situation and compounded by the sheer size of the city (which in the 1990s became the fifth largest in the country). Because of this, the city is required by the EPA to sell a cleaner-burning fuel, which happens to be more expensive. Tucson, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer the same pollution problems as Phoenix, and as a result is allowed to sell the cheapest (and dirtiest) gasoline on the market. Mixing this fuel with government-subsidized ethanol helps to further lower the price of gasoline in the city.
The gas prices in Tucson and Phoenix demonstrate how demographics and geography can interplay in often surprising ways. In this case, Phoenix drivers pay a 20 cent per gallon premium at the pump because of a combination of environmental factors, a situation I’m sure the residents of Phoenix weren’t anticipating when the region first began to grow. As for me, living in a city where regular old unleaded gasoline is currently being hawked at $4.45, I think I'll just take the bus.
Labels: gasoline prices