Soaring Gas Prices Hitting Wyoming Residents In The Pocket

in News/wyoming economy

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

As the price of gas soars in Wyoming, some residents are harder hit than others, depending on where they live.

On Friday, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Wyoming was $4, an increase of almost 35 cents from one week ago.

The cheapest gasoline price in the state was $3.50 a gallon in Buffalo, followed by $3.56 per gallon in Lingle, according to GasBuddy.com, a company that tracks gasoline prices nationally.

The lowest cost for a gallon of diesel in the state was in Gillette at $3.79 per gallon, followed by $3.99 per gallon in Cheyenne and Newcastle.

According to AAA, the highest gas prices in the state are Uinta County $4.25 gallon, followed by Platte County at $4.23 and Lincoln County at $4.15.

The rising prices are beginning to hit Wyoming residents in their wallets, especially when combined with other inflationary pressures.

In Gillette, the prices have seemed to cause both sticker shock and some grumbling.

Mike Summers, a veteran, college student, substitute teacher and single father of twin teenage girls, said the increases have hit his wallet hard.

“It definitely sucks,” he said. 

It used to cost him $30 to fill up his tank if he was close to empty and now it costs nearly double that at just under $58.

“It’s not breaking my bank account, but it is pretty inconvenient,” he said. “And I see it going up more and more every day.”

The burden is greater for those living in smaller, more remote communities who are forced to drive to larger cities for work or necessary appointments.

Wright resident Crystal O’Bryan said higher fuel costs have already taken a toll on her family. 

Wright is 40 miles from Gillette and 75 miles from Douglas. The O’Bryans have long commutes both to work and to medical appointments for their 12-year-old autistic son.

The rising cost of gas is forcing the family to make hard choices, O’Bryan said.

Because of the higher gas prices, her husband is now carpooling to the mine where he works to save costs.

Meanwhile, son Scot takes part in occupational therapy in Gillette every week and sees specialists in Douglas.

“It’s really hit us hard,” O’Bryan said. “Our medical expenses have skyrocketed just from the price of gas alone. I was going to Casper every other month to go to Sam’s club, but not sure if the savings are worth it anymore.”

Stephanie Hutt of Story, between Buffalo and Sheridan, also must drive long distances for her daughter’s medical care. She and her family are weathering the increased gas expense, but she worries about the impact the soaring fuel costs will have on the health of people who might not be able to afford to travel.

“I think for people who are struggling financially it is a huge impact,” she said. “People will quit traveling for appointments and follow-up appointments, causing risk to their health due to the high prices.”

Soaring Gas Prices Hit Gig Workers

Delivery drivers like Randy Mortensen, a full-time Door Dash driver in Gillette, has had to cut back on the number of days he works each week and turn down deliveries if they’re too far away.

While he typically takes only one or maybe two days off a week, this week he’s taking three days off because gas prices are just getting too steep to make the deliveries profitable, he said. 

He’s hoping that the corporation will take steps to increase rates for drivers, but so far, no adjustments for inflation or higher gas prices have been made, he said.

Typically, Mortensen makes anywhere from $150 to $200 a day while working between nine and 10 hours. For now, he’s cutting back and will try to make up the extra money by maximizing deliveries on the days he’s working.

“It (gasoline) just keeps going up, and I’ve decided that it’s probably better to just cut back a little bit and not have to drive so much,” he said.

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