However, the agency’s data also shows that fuel prices still remain well below those posted during the same week in 2015. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

U.S. fuel prices rise yet again

April 26, 2016
Yet fuel tax revenues keep falling, forcing states to make adjustments, EIA says.

The national average retail price for both diesel and gasoline continued to climb this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), with prices for both fuels increasing in all regions of the country.

However, the agency’s data also shows that fuel prices remain well below those posted during the same week in 2015.

The national average retail price for diesel jumped up 3.3 cents this week to $2.198 per gallon, EIA reported, though that is 61.3 cents  cheaper per gallon compared to the same week in 2015.

Diesel prices increased in every region of the country, the agency noted, with the largest one-week hike occurring in the Midwest, where prices increased 4.4 cents to $2.156 per gallon.

Not surprisingly, California claimed the highest average price for diesel in U.S. this week at $2.505 per gallon – which is 3.9 cents per gallon higher compared to last week – while the Gulf Coast remains home to the cheapest diesel at $2.074 per gallon, an increase of 2.8 cents from last week.

The national average retail price for gasoline jumped 2.5 cents this week to $2.162 per gallon, EIA noted, though that is 40.8 cents per gallon cheaper compared to the same week in 2015.

Gasoline prices increased in all regions of the country, with the largest spike occurring in the Midwest; a 4 cent hike to $2.097 per gallon.

The Gulf Coast served as home to the smallest price spike for gasoline this week (3/10ths of a penny) as well as the cheapest overall price ($1.913 per gallon, the only region in the country where prices are below the $2 per gallon mark).

The West Coast is home to the highest price for gasoline this week, EIA reported, at $2.596 per gallon with California’s prices included (a 5/10ths of a penny increase from last week) as well as when California’s prices are excluded at $2.286 per gallon (a 7/10ths of a penny increase from last week).

EIA also issued a report regarding state-level taxes and fees, noting that they averaged 26.5 cents per gallon as of January 1 this year: ranging from a low of 8.95 cents per gallon in Alaska to a high of 51.4 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania, in addition to the federal tax of 18.4¢/gal.

State taxes on diesel are slightly higher—averaging 27.4 cents per gallon, and ranging from 8.95 cents per gallon in Alaska to 65.1 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania—and are in addition to the 24.4 cents per gallon federal tax.

The agency added that many states allow localities or municipalities to impose additional taxes on motor fuels, with such “local option taxes” either applying broadly across all local jurisdictions, as in Florida and Hawaii, or more selectively, as in Mississippi where the state imposes a seawall tax on gasoline in just three counties that border the Gulf of Mexico.

Some municipalities, such as Chicago, also impose taxes in addition to state and local taxes. Although many local option taxes are cents-per-gallon taxes, some are percentages of the purchase price.

In California, most local jurisdictions have district sales and use taxes ranging from 0.10% to 2% in addition to the 2.25% state sales tax on gasoline and the 9.25% state sales tax on diesel fuel.

Yet EIA noted that revenue from motor fuel taxes is declining due to increased vehicle fuel economy, which is slowing the growth in gasoline and diesel consumption. Further, most states rely upon fixed per-gallon taxes that are not adjusted for inflation, the agency said.

As a result, many states now index all or a portion of their motor fuel excise taxes to inflation rates, EIA added, with Georgia recently passing legislation to index the state-level excise tax based on corporate average fuel economy standards and the U.S. consumer price index.

Other states index sales taxes that apply to motor fuels and also allow indexing at the local-government level, the agency pointed out.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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