By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — PLATTSBURGH — While local and national gas prices have fallen since September, local residents still say the seemingly ever-changing prices are too still high.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration website listed the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline last week as $3.568, up 0.116 percent from a year ago but down 0.119 percent from the week before.
“It’s crazy,” said Steven Brown of Plattsburgh, adding that high gas prices put a burden on middle-income families in the area.
Brown places part of the blame on New York’s high tax rate.
“I think it’s ridiculous the way they tax” gasoline.
New York is second only to California for the highest gas prices in the country as of Monday, according to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average for a gallon of gas in California was $3.996, significantly more than New York’s average of $3.848.
The average of the 15 area gas stations surveyed Sunday by the Press-Republican is $3.959, about 11 cents higher than the state’s Monday average.
On average, every 10-cent increase in the price of gas results in an additional $7 in gas expenses a month for the average American household, according to the Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Despite the high prices, Brown said he hasn’t been able to cut down on driving.
“You can’t change it (driving habits). You have your everyday life.”
Brown drives frequently, so he usually gets gas for his Subaru Outback every couple of days, he said. A full tank costs him between $40 and $45.
But some people are trying to alter their day-to-day driving habits in an effort to save money on gas.
This year, Laura Poupore of Beekmantown started carpooling with co-workers to her job in Peru to conserve gas.
She also carpooled on a recent trip with friends to Lake Placid for dinner. Poupore and seven others rode together in one vehicle to save on gas.
“We squeezed everyone we could into a van.”
“I do feel like you lose the convenience” of being able to drive whenever desired without spending copious amounts of money, Poupore said.
She usually fills up at Buck’s Discount Center on Route 22 in Plattsburgh. Drivers save a few cents per gallon at Buck’s if they pay cash, Poupore said. And every little bit helps since she spends about $70 each week to fill the tank of her Jeep SUV.
Brown said he also frequents Buck’s for gas.
Local residents say the North Country’s high gas prices are a source of frustration for them.
“That’s always been an issue with the North Country — why we pay more,” Craig Squier of Plattsburgh said as he pumped gas at Stewart’s on Route 3 in Plattsburgh.
Squier said he doesn’t believe prices are higher in our area because of the cost to transport the fuel here since Vermont is in the same area and has much lower prices.
“I don’t buy the transportation excuse,” he said.
It costs Squier between $80 and $90 to fill the tank of his GMC Sierra pickup truck. He uses a full tank of gas in a week to a week and a half.
He said his vehicle doesn’t get the best gas mileage, but “it’s a vehicle of necessity” since his job requires him to transport heavy loads.
When he’s not working, he makes an effort to keep driving to a minimum, he said.
“We try to consolidate our shopping and around-town errands.”
To increase fuel economy, the U.S. Department of Energy website recommends observing the speed limit, removing excess weight from vehicles, avoiding excessive idling, using cruise control and using overdrive gears.
The Press-Republican conducts an occasional gas price survey. Here is a sampling of the price of regular unleaded gas around the area as of Sept. 14.
The second number is from Nov. 4.
Betty Beaver Truck Stop, Lewis $4.23 $3.97
Byrd's Country Store, Willsboro $4.15 $4.02
Cadyville Gulf, Cadyville $4.19 $3.75
Dubrey's Service Station, Plattsburgh $4.19 $3.99
Eastern Door Convenience, Hogansburg $4.05 $3.88
Jay's Sunoco, Ticonderoga $4.10 NA
Liberty's Garage, Peru $4.19 NA
Maplefields, Peru $4.19 $3.99
Mineville Oil Company, Mineville $2.98
NA Mountain Mart, Malone $4.19 $3.98
Nice N Easy, Tupper Lake $4.17 $3.99
Port Henry Mobil, Port Henry $4.11 $3.99
Ray Brook Sunoco and Deli $4.13 $3.95
Route 11 Mobil, Champlain $4.19 $3.99
Saleem Mobil, Plattsburgh $4.12 $3.97
Sharkey's Store, Ticonderoga $4.09 $3.89
Village Meat Market, Willsboro $4.15 $3.97
W W Carwash, Plattsburgh $4.17 $3.93
Westport Mobil, Westport $4.29 $4.09