You know, few things make me angrier than the price of gas out here. It’s completely unfair. Travel to any other part of the country, and gasoline is about thirty cents cheaper per gallon than it is on the East End. If you travel even to Riverhead, you can get gasoline for under four bucks a gallon, but travel to East Hampton, and in some places it’s closer to five bucks.
Even as gas prices have come down slightly, you’ll notice that they still remain suspiciously high out here. It’s called price gouging, and some gas stations are worse than others, but they all seem to do it and everybody, including officials, knows it is against the law, but they do it anyway. It’s the way they do business.
I got a call last week from a guy named Steve Zimmerman who was very upset about the price of gasoline. He explained to me that he is so tired of the price gouging out here that he has called every single official on the East End to do something about it. There was one official, he said, that made somewhat of an effort, but it was all in vain. That official is Fred Thiele, the New York State Assemblyman for Sag Harbor.
Around Memorial Day Weekend, Mr. Thiele charged that major gasoline suppliers and wholesalers were participating in price gouging and were in violation of New York State’s prohibition on zone pricing laws. Thiele stated in a press release that, “It is obvious that when it comes to gasoline prices in one of the most popular vacation communities in America, Big Oil has chosen to not only ignore the zone pricing law but also to repeal the law of supply and demand. In response to the decline in oil prices, retail gasoline prices have declined across the state and nation—except on the South Fork. Prices haven’t moved in a month. It is clear that prices were kept artificially high to exploit the big holiday weekend.”
Even after Thiele brought this to the attention of state officials, very little has changed and very little seems to continue to change. Prices are still outrageously higher than they should be. The average price of gasoline in the country today is $3.79. However, if you buy gasoline at the cheapest gas station in town, which are the Hess Stations in the Hamptons, gasoline is $4.02. At other gas stations, consumers are still paying around $4.35 or more.
It’s not fair.
And it’s not so much that the well-to-do out here can’t afford to pay these prices: it is the legal aspect of it. Zimmerman explained to me over the telephone, “Every time I buy from any of the gas stations out here, I feel like I’m being robbed. Something really should be done, I think there should be a boycott.”
I’d be in favor of a boycott too, if it were possible to not pay for gasoline and still be able to live a normal life on the East End. That’s why there are price laws for gasoline in the first place, because everybody knows that it is impossible to get by without gasoline.
The best thing that people can do is to fill up the e-mails and mailboxes of state and local politicians so that this issue can be addressed.
Either that or you can drive all the way to Riverhead for your gas.
Or get a bike… [/expand]