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Wyo Petroleum Head Says Fuel Meeting Will Go Beyond ‘Bumper Sticker Slogans’

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The head of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming is encouraging Wyoming residents to tune in to Gov. Mark Gordon’s Gas and Diesel Price Working Group meeting on Friday, saying the information to be provided during the event will go beyond “bumper sticker slogans.”

Pete Obermueller, executive director of PAW, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that as one of the presenters on Friday, he intends to talk about what current oil production is like in Wyoming, which is not ideal.

However, he added he did not believe the group would be able to offer any immediate solutions.

“I don’t believe there’s anything this group can do right off the bat that would tip the scales one way or another with respect to a global commodity and prices that are set on a global scale,” Obermueller said. “In terms of the meeting itself or the group having influence on a price reduction, that’s just not possible.”

The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday at the Herschler Building in Cheyenne. It will also be streamed on Zoom. The working group will take public comment during the meeting.

The group’s chair, Brenda Henson, director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the meeting is more of a “fact-finding mission” than anything else.

As Obermueller pointed out, the group is hindered by federal and global regulations and supply, which affect not only Wyoming, but the rest of the United States.

“We have no preconceived notions about what our recommendations to the governor should or shouldn’t look like,” Henson said. “We are truly looking at an investigative process and whatever happens, the knowledge will be better than it was previously.”

Obermueller said the problem right now with fuel prices is high demand coupled with limited supply.

“We saw the margins rebalancing a little bit, particularly as the supply started coming through refineries, which have basically been running at capacity, nationwide” he said. “For several weeks, they’ve been starting to catch up with demand, but here in Wyoming, we’re staying paying $4.50, $4.60 at the pump.”

Right now, Wyoming has 21 oil rigs operating, which Obermueller said was “better than zero,” but not as good as the more than 30 that were running prior to the pandemic in 2020.

In June, Gov. Mark Gordon created the Gas and Diesel Price Working Group, convening officials and legislators from across the state to discuss the high cost of fuel that has hit both the state and the nation.

Some of the members of the working group include Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner, Jonathan Downing of the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association and state Reps. Clark Stith, Rock Springs, and Mike Greear, R-Worland.

Wyoming’s average gas price per gallon of $4.80 on Tuesday was higher than the national average, $4.65.

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Tuesday was in Moose, near Jackson, at $5.79 per gallon. 

Obermueller said neither he nor anyone else can predict a break from the gas prices in the short-term future, which is why he does not believe that the working group will be able to provide any solutions for the time being that Gordon has not already tried.

“From my honest perspective, the very best thing we can do is try to push through the headwinds to increase our production of oil from Wyoming’s resources,” he said. “We do have a supply, but we’re just in a situation where in addition to the workforce and supply chain challenges we have, we are operating in an environment where the federal government is openly hostile to the work we do. So that makes it difficult.”

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Through The Roof! Gas Tops $7 Per Gallon In Teton County

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A gas station in Teton Village has become the most expensive place to get gasoline in Wyoming with a price of $6.69 per gallon of regular unleaded, more than $1 higher than the average price in Teton County and more than $2 above the state’s lowest gas price.

The four-pump Chevron gas station in Teton Village is charging $6.69 for its cheapest type of gas, according to Thursday’s Wyoming gas map. The owner did not return Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment on Thursday afternoon.

The average price of gas in Teton County is $5.25, while the state’s average Thursday was $4.83. The lowest gasoline price in the state Thursday was in Laramie at $4.24 per gallon — more than $2 per gallon less than the Teton Village price.

The prices at the Chevron on Thursday ranged to a high of $7.09 for supreme.

GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said that the high price charged by the Chevron is probably legal, but is also likely to discourage potential repeat customers.

Wyoming has no laws regulating the setting of retail prices.

Drew Dearmont, from Tallahassee, Florida, told Cowboy State Daily that he was surprised to hear that regular unleaded was selling for as low as $5.11 in Jackson when he was paying $6.69 at the Chevron in Teton Village, only 12 miles away.

“Talk about markup,” Dearmont said. “It’s my own fault for not checking to see what the prices are. I know they are all online so I will definitely learn from this.”

Shelly Colbertson, a tourist from the Minneapolis area, said she expected gas prices to be higher in Teton County but not over $7 per gallon for premium unleaded.

“This is bat [expletive] crazy,” Colbertson said. “When I saw the price at the pump, I just decided that I would gas up somewhere else. This is insanity.”

The $6.69 gas price is more expensive than at some California gas stations, which are averaging about $6.16 per gallon of regular unleaded, according to GasBuddy.com.

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Wyoming Auto Insiders Not Optimistic About 40 MPG Fuel Standards

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By Ellen Fike and Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming residents employed in the auto industry doubt car manufacturers will be able to meet new fuel economy standards that will require vehicles to average 40 miles per gallon by 2026.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require new vehicles sold in the United States to average at least 40 mpg in 2026. Cars being manufactured today must average 28 miles to the gallon.

The NHTSA said with this new average, gasoline consumption will decrease by more than 220 billion gallons by 2050 compared to the standards currently in place.

Bob Ruwart, who has owned Bob Ruwart Motors in Wheatland for 32 years, said the technology exists to hit the 40 mpg goal, but federal regulations will keep automakers from reaching it.

“They’ve had diesel cars for years that could hit 50 miles to the gallon,” Ruwart said.  “But the emission laws are so stringent that manufacturers have to keep redesigning engines.

“They could get there with diesel engines but the regulations have made it so cost-prohibitive that factories can’t move forward with diesel,” he said.

As for electric cars, Ruwart said he doesn’t see the technology or the resources being advanced enough for EVs to make a big difference yet.

He said there won’t be enough charging stations across the country for a big influx in electric cars, the energy isn’t available to power the stations and when chargers are available, consumers get mixed messages.

“We don’t have the power to charge everything with the war on coal power plants going on,” he said.  “Plus, in California, more than once the government has told owners not to charge their cars because they don’t have enough power.”

Scott Roybal, a salesman at Halladay Motors in Cheyenne, said he thought the standard was just a push to get more people to look at electric cars as a viable option.

“You’re never going to get rid of internal combustion,” he said. “EVs work in places like downtown Los Angeles or Denver because you’re not driving a very far commute. Can you imagine being in Mule Creek Junction and looking for a place to plug in?”

With these new fuel economy standards, there is an expectation that carbon dioxide emissions will decrease, but new vehicle prices will also rise, hurting an industry already dealing with inflation and supply chain issues, according to ABC News.

Vince Bodiford, a media executive based in Cheyenne and Detroit who also owns the automotive website “The Weekend Drive,” said the 40 mpg standard is far too aggressive and could be rolled back by another presidential administration by 2026.

He further explained that the goal does not mean that all cars have to get 40 miles-per-gallon. It’s just the average of all of the carmaker’s entire range of models.

“This helps us understand why carmakers are rushing to get so many electric vehicles to market – because an EV in the lineup raises the car company’s average so much,” he said.

“Another reason for the mad dash for EV’s is car companies are trying to drive their stock price up – like Tesla has done,” Bodiford continued. “Both strategies are ridiculous and have little to do with genuine concern for ‘climate change.'”

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