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Auburn motorists still not pumped up about gas prices

AAA reports average $3.61 a gallon is lower than expected
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - AAA is reporting a break in global tensions is helping steady gas prices in Northern California and around the U.S.

But the current average price of $3.56 a gallon in Northern California – with the pump price as low as $3.41 Wednesday in Auburn – isn’t creating serious elation among motorists interviewed locally Wednesday.

The automobile association’s Emeryville office says in its monthly survey released this week that gas prices are 9 cents cheaper than California’s average at the same time last year. They’re also down a cent since last month’s report.

Northern California’s average gas price is the same as last month.

“In the first 90 days of 2012, geopolitical tensions with Iran pressured the national price at the pump almost 65 cents higher,” said AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris. “The beginning of 2013 does not have a similar situation that is moving the market.”

Nationally, the average price as of Tuesday was $3.30. California prices are the fourth highest among states. Hawaii is the highest at $4.01.

Doug Burgard of Auburn said that his crane business has averaged $1,200 to $1,500 a month in fuel expenditures. That’s about double what it was five years ago, he said.

“Do you have an hour?” he asked, when queried about his thoughts on gas costs.

“It’s a necessary evil like buying groceries,” Burgard said. “But I think the prices are ridiculous and it’s not the cost for fuel. It’s the tax per gallon.”

Burgard said that a drop in fuel taxes would be one simple answer to provide some relief at the pump.

Derek Blonquist of Rocklin was gassing up at a station on Highway 49 after a visit to his parents Wednesday. His cost per gallon was $3.68 because his car is turbocharged and needs premium fuel.

“It hurts a little,” Blonquist said. “In four years, it’s gone from just over $2 a gallon.”

Not everyone is complaining, however.

Clipper Gap’s Stuart Rawlings said that he has no strong feelings at the moment about gas prices.

“I took a trip to Monterey at Christmas and was pleased that they were lower than they have been but it’s not a serious concern,” Rawlings said.

Only 12 states and Washington, D.C. currently have an average price at the pump that is more expensive than one year ago. Not coincidentally, AAA stated, those are also the states where gasoline supplies and distribution were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy this fall. Tight supplies in the Northeast linger and continue to buoy prices in the region, the report said.