In the weeks leading to Election Day, the price of gasoline had been steadily going down. Back in May, the price of a gallon of 87 octane gas was $3.25 -- by European standards that was still rather cheap, but still rather high for the US. From that high it had been steadily, by two or three cents each time, decreasing. Three months later, at the same station, the price was at $2.98.
Then the run up to the elections began. Newspapers covered the ballot measures and the various impacts each would have. One of those measures was the “Alternative Fuel fund” which would require oil companies to pay into a research fund that would make their industry less lucrative in the long run.
The price of gas began to steadily decline.
A barrel of oil hardly dipped at all, and at times would rise to a new high; yet the price of a gallon of gas continued to fall at the local station.
Within two months, the cost of filling up my gas tank dropped to a level less than it had been all year. On Election Day, it was at $2.25 – a full dollar less than it had been five months before – for a gallon of the low octane gas at the station I’d been watching. There were similar low prices at all the local stations.
The day after the election, each of those stations raised their prices. Not by a couple of pennies, but by as much as 8 cents. On Saturday, I drove by the local station and imagine my surprise when I saw that they had raised the price again, by another 6 cents: a total of 14 cents altogether.
On Tuesday gas was $2.25 and on Saturday it was $2.39! Within the space of four days, it would now cost me a little over a dollar and a half more to get a full tank of gas. In four days, the price rose to a level from which it took a month to creep down, pennies at a time.
I don’t consider myself to be paranoid or given to conspiracy theories, but something rather odd is happening at Bay Area gas stations, and I don’t think it was merely increased demand on the part of drivers – that can happen around the holidays. I think the oil companies were trying to win California voters over, making us think that gas prices weren’t that bad and we don’t really need to pass a measure that would make them pay into a fund that would go toward research that would make their own product less in demand. Perhaps we bought it, because the measure was voted down.
Then the price of gas went back up.