gasoline

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan motorists are spending less and smiling more at the gas pump these days.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING  (AP) - A typical Michigan driver would initially pay roughly $4.60 more a month in state gasoline taxes under a gradual tax increase proposed to boost funding for road repairs.

  In 2018, a driver buying 60 gallons of gas a month could pay $14.70 per month more than today. That's an extra $177 a year, more than double the $137 in per-gallon state fuel taxes he or she currently pays annually.

Fred Thompson / Flickr

2014 is nearly over, but we won't know how much ethanol the U.S. EPA will require to be blended into gasoline for 2014, until 2015.  The EPA announced last week it will delay issuing the standard.

The ethanol industry and refining industry are on opposite sides of the Renewable Fuels Standard debate.  The RFS requires increasing amounts of ethanol in gasoline every year, unless there are compelling economic reasons to depart from the practice.

Earlier this year, the EPA indicated it was planning to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard for the first time since 2007 – because it appeared the amount of ethanol in gasoline would have to exceed 10% – and the effect of higher ethanol blends on older engines is unclear.

The delay on issuing that standard has generated relief among corn ethanol lobbyists.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State auditors are raising questions about thousands of dollars of purchases charged to gas cards.

  The audit released Friday found people driving state vehicles spent $372,000 on things besides gas during a recent two-year period. About 40 percent of that amount was charged to a category called "other."

  The state of Michigan's vehicle policy has many restrictions on the use of gas cards. Food, beverages, maps and towing are among the prohibited items.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gasoline prices are dropping in Michigan.   

Prices per gallon have dropped by roughly 40 cents in the past month.   The statewide average is about $3.20.

But if you know where to look, you can save a lot more.

Motorists in parts of West Michigan are now paying as little as $2.75 a gallon. By comparison, in Ann Arbor, prices are still hovering around $3.30.

Gas prices from the past at the shuttered Logan's Gas and Deli near Battle Creek.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s roads are crumbling and some put the estimate to fix them at almost $2 billion a year.

State lawmakers are in the midst of considering raising revenue through higher taxes on gas, and that has raised a lot of debate around what we already pay at the pump.

Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush recently wrote about how gas prices in Michigan work, and he compiled a list of four things for us to consider when thinking about what we pay at the pump.

*You can listen to our interview with Brush above.

Here’s his list:

user futureatlas.com / Flickr

If there's one issue uniting Michigan's old and young, Republican and Democrat, it's the need to fix our crumbling roads.

Things are so bad, state legislators are even considering hiking the gas tax.

But critics say small businesses will struggle if they have to pay any more at the pump.

Charlie Owens is with the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

He says he's hearing from Michigan companies that are worried about higher gas prices right now, considering the minimum wage just went up, and the economic recovery is still fragile.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposal to greatly increase Michigan’s gas tax goes before a state Senate committee tomorrow.

The proposal has already cleared the state House. Among other things, it calls for taxing fuel based on price, instead of volume. It would generate about $500 million in new tax revenue. That's about a third of what Gov. Rick Snyder and others say is needed to fix the roads.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan senators are considering whether to significantly increase gasoline taxes over five years to mend roads and bridges.

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.

It would initially generate $450 million a year, mostly by diverting money from elsewhere in the budget.

Gas prices from the past at the shuttered Logan's Gas and Deli near Battle Creek.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Every time you fill up, you pay seven-eighths of a cent per gallon of gas for a “regulatory fee” that was originally set up to help clean up the thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan.

Those pennies you pay at the pump add up to a $50 million pot of money each year.

It’s called the Refined Petroleum Fund. The fund worked initially. The money helped remove tens of thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan. When those old tanks leak, they can pollute the soil and ruin nearby water sources.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People are more worried about being able to afford fuel for their cars than heating their homes. That’s the finding of a new poll by the University of Michigan.

The U of M Energy Institute asked people about their energy costs and found that most people are twice as sensitive to increasing gasoline costs than they are to rising home energy costs.

John DeCicco is a research professor at the U of M Energy Institute. He says the reason for the higher sensitivity to gas prices may be found by looking through the car windshield.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

AAA predicts that 1.2 million Michiganders will travel this Labor Day weekend.  

More than 90 percent will be driving. 

Gasoline prices took their usual pre-holiday weekend jump earlier this week in Michigan.   The statewide average is about $3.75.

But Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says that’s not too bad.

“Keep in mind last year…prices were north of four dollars a gallon,” says DeHaan, “So prices this year are about 30 cents per gallon than where they were last year at this time.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state lawmaker says he has a plan to drive down Michigan’s high gas prices.

Senator Rick Jones says it’s time to build a new oil refinery.   But not everyone’s sold on the plan.

Jones introduced legislation that would give a ten-year property and equipment tax exemption to any company willing to build a new refinery in Michigan.

“And that’s exactly what we need in Michigan to make sure we have adequate supplies,” says Jones.

Jones says more supply means lower prices at the pump.

carhumor.com

The average fuel economy for U.S. built vehicles reached a new high in May, at 24.8 miles per gallon. This is good news for drivers when gas station signs are showing prices near and above $4 a gallon.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) says consumers are not only being more fuel-efficient savvy, but car companies are listening.

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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan utility regulators say gasoline consumption is expected to decline slightly this summer compared with previous years.

The Michigan Public Service Commission's recently released summer energy appraisal forecasts adequate energy supplies and prices this summer.

The group says gasoline sales in Michigan are expected to drop about 1 percent in 2013 after a decline of almost 2 percent last year due to increased fuel efficiency and consistently high gasoline prices.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Gasoline prices have risen sharply during the last few days.

"GasBuddy.com" pegs Michigan’s average price per gallon at $3.85. That's up ten cents from a week ago, and it's 20 cents higher than the national average. Many gas stations are already charging $3.99 a gallon, with a few charging more than four dollars. 

Gregg Laskoski is a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. He says prices are not rising because of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

Laskoski blames refinery problems in Indiana and Illinois for prices pushing four dollars a gallon. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan motorists are paying a lot more for a gallon of gasoline than they did just a few weeks ago.

Just two weeks ago, the Web site GasBuddy.com pegged Michigan’s average price for a gallon of gas at $3.18. That average price has soared nearly sixty cents since then.

Patrick DeHaan is with GasBuddy. He describes the price spike as "unprecedented" for this time of year.

“What we have already seen is … mindblowing,” says DeHaan. 

DeHaan is not ruling out gas prices reaching four dollars a gallon in the near future.

In 2007, Logan's Gas and Deli lost 8,000 gallons of gas underground. The owners walked away, and the state is still cleaning up the mess.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

There are around 4,800 gas stations in Michigan, but at one time, there were a lot more. It seemed like just about every corner had a gas station on it.

Many of those gas stations are closed now, but taxpayers are often on the hook for what’s been left behind.

I visited one of these polluted sites recently with representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The heavy traffic along State Route 89 near Battle Creek makes it a perfect place for a gas station.

And for a long time, things were going well for Logan’s Gas and Deli.

J. Pinkston and L. Stern / U.S. Geological Survey

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit university is playing a role in early but promising efforts to find and extract new energy sources.

A research project at Wayne State University is among 14 across 11 states involved in work on methane hydrates. These are structures that look like ice but have natural gas locked inside.

The project builds on what the U.S. government calls a "successful, unprecedented" test on Alaska's North Slope that produced a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates.

A pipeline that supplies much of Michigan's natural gas could be shut down ... and converted to carry crude oil. That's sparked a number of concerns from business and government.

Natural gas is plentiful and cheap right now.

That's why a Texas company filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- or FERC --  in July to shut down 770 miles of transmission lines across several states. It would either abandon them ... or eventually use the pipes to carry crude oil.

And that could affect how much a lot of people in Michigan will pay to heat their homes and businesses.

The pipeline owned by Trunkline Gas Company crosses into Branch County from Indiana. That's where Consumers Energy connects to it ... and distributes the natural gas to 45 counties in the Lower Peninsula.

Dan Bishop is a Consumers Energy spokesman. He says Consumers depends on Trunkline for 60 percent of the gas it supplies to 1.7 million customers in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan gasoline prices have risen 25 cents in the past week.

The price increase is tied to late summer driving demand and Hurricane Isaac disrupting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The average price for a gallon of gasoline in Michigan stands at $4.08, according to GasBuddy.com.

user frenchbyte / MorgueFile.com

As Labor Day Weekend approaches, Michiganders are seeing higher gas prices.
The current national gas price hovers around $3.75 for a gallon regular fuel, while Michigan's average gas price is almost $3.93 a gallon, making it the ninth priciest state for refueling. In a press release, the American Automobile Association reports that Michigan is the state with the fifth highest year-over-year gasoline price jump. 

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Boost for Detroit neighborhoods, schools

Governor Snyder was in Detroit yesterday to kick off an intensive neighborhood stabilization effort. It will focus on 3 neighborhoods, anchored by 9 Detroit schools.  Sarah Cwiek reports:

The effort kicked off outside Clark Preparatory Academy in Detroit’s Morningside neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Morningside is one of three communities that will get state help to demolish the abandoned homes dotting the neighborhood, and clean up the area. Lansing also plans to send in some state police patrols, and will put social workers in the neighborhood schools.

Governor Snyder says Detroit must strengthen its neighborhoods if the city is to truly come back.

“That’s the goal. We’re doing this because we believe it will work, and we want to get good experience and do continuous improvement, and then continue to ramp up the program.”

The state is putting $10 million into the effort so far, and Snyder says more could become available. City officials say the state helps supplement existing blight eradication programs.

 Republican Senate candidates hold primary season debate

Three Republicans running for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination appeared together yesterday in their only televised debate of this primary season. Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, charter school executive Clark Durant, and former judge Randy Hekman are running. Rick Pluta reports:

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Gasoline prices in parts of Michigan are soaring over $4 a gallon.

The recent leak that shutdown an oil pipeline in Wisconsin is getting much of the blame. The Enbridge Energy pipeline has been shut down since it sprung a leak last week.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

AAA predicts 1.4 million Michiganders will travel during the Fourth of July holiday.

Most of them will be driving. GasBuddy.com says drivers should not expect to see a big spike in gasoline prices.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michiganders will use less gasoline and electricity this summer, that's according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The state utility regulatory agency issued its annual Summer Energy Appraisal today.

Judy Palnau is the agency’s spokeswoman. She says there are a couple reasons why the public service commission expects gasoline sales will decline about 2 percent this summer in Michigan.

“Part of that is a economy. But part of that is we are also driving more energy efficient vehicles,” says Palnau. 

Palnau says the economy is also a reason why they expect electricity use will dip slightly this summer.

“Our sluggish economy is still a factor in decreasing use of electricity,” says Palnau, though the MPSC expects residential electric use will increase. 

The MPSC study also predicts natural gas sales will decline nearly 5 percent this summer. A mild winter drove down demand among both business and residential natural gas customers.

World Resources Institute

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned off state-owned oil and natural gas drilling rights on more than 90,000 acres yesterday.

Here’s a recap of the auction results:

  • Total acres up for auction: 108,164.70
  • Total acres leased: 91,225.42
  • Total money raised: $4,118,848.60
  • Average bid per acre: $39.90

These auctions are typically held twice per year, in May and October.

The money raised from these biannual auctions has been steadily increasing since 2000, hitting peaks in 2008 and 2010.

In the first auction of 2008, the state leased all of the 149,000 available acres for more than $13 million. The last time the state had a 100 percent lease rate was in 1981.

The first auction in 2010 had a 99.6 percent lease rate and raised an unprecedented amount: more than $178 million.

The average bid per acre for that auction was $1,507, which far exceeds the average bids at any other auctions over the last 10 years, all of which have been under $100.

-Suzanne Jacobs, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Michigan gasoline prices are falling.   Prices are down about ten cents a gallon in the past week and are actually 16 cents lower than a year ago.

Patrick DeHaan is an analyst with GasBuddy.com.     He predicts prices will stay below four dollars a gallon through Memorial Day.

"Because of demand being down so considerably year over year I think that's not as much of a story," says DeHaan,   "I think that's why gas prices fell short of where?many analysts would have thought they would have risen to this year."

Jeffrey Simms Photography / Flickr

President Obama is setting his sights on oil-market speculators. The President laid out a plan this week that would make it easier for the government to regulate oil trading markets.

There’s concern in the Obama administration that speculators are artificially driving up the price of oil. The President’s plan would increase spending to provide better oversight of energy markets. It would also increase penalties against those who engage in illegal trading.

Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin is in favor of the President's plan. He thinks more regulation of the markets is needed. "This is not a situation where the market is governing – where the usual rules of supply and demand govern. As a matter of fact, if supply and demand were the driving force here, gas prices would be going down. Not up," Levin says.

The President concedes that his plan will not immediately lower gas prices. But he says it will prevent market manipulation which, in turn, will help consumers.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Deadline coming for Detroit

Detroit City Council is meeting today to mull over potential changes to a "financial stability agreement" with the state. Gov. Rick Snyder has said this Thursday is his deadline to decide whether or not to appoint an emergency manager for the city, but some think there might be some wiggle room. From the Detroit Free Press:

On Friday, Snyder's chief of staff Dennis Muchmore said on "Off the Record" on public TV's WKAR that "there's a little bit of flexibility that's built into the law" establishing the emergency manager process, and April 13 becomes "another target date" because of an appeal period. But in a comment that received less attention, Muchmore also said that Thursday is "a hard and fast deadline" for Snyder to decide on an emergency manager.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported last Friday that another court hearing on the legality of the state's consent agreement process could further muddle the process. A court hearing is set for April 9th, after Gov. Snyder's April 5th deadline.

Dow to lay off 900 workers

Dow Chemical Co. is set to lay off around 900 people in response to weak demand for its products in Europe.

The Associated Press reports the chemical manufacturer said today the positions will be cut as part of a plan to trim about $250 million in annual costs. They said they will shut down factories in Illinois, Portugal, Hungary, and Brazil, and it will idle a plant in The Netherlands.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the company made the decision to adapt to a volatile economy, especially in western Europe.

Dow says it will book a first-quarter charge of $350 million in the first quarter for severance packages, asset impairments and other items related to its cost-cutting plan.

Shares rose 3 cents to $34.67 in morning trading.

Gas prices rising

Gas prices rose about 7 cents during the past week, according to AAA Michigan. Prices are at a statewide average above $4 per gallon for the first time since last June.

From the AP:

The auto club says Monday the average of $4.04 is about 37 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Flint area, where it's $3.95 a gallon. The highest average is in the Ann Arbor and Marquette areas at $4.07.

AAA says Michigan's all-time high was $4.26.

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