picture by runron

Monday, June 28 – $2.55

Tuesday, June 29 – $2.55

Wednesday, June 30 – $2.74

Saturday, July 3 – $2.69

Monday, July 5 – $2.69

I am not journaling my daily candy expenditure. This was gas prices in my county last week. The $2.55 was only at some of the stations but those stations were quite popular.

I listed the gas prices to show why those of us in Illinois are so frustrated. We never know what to expect from day-to-day when it comes to gas prices. I live in a very small town that is 15-20 minutes from another town. Our gas prices are always higher, from 5¢ to 9¢ per gallon higher than the next town over. And that is why I will never buy gas from our town stations unless I absolutely have to do so.

Picture by Ariadna

Worse yet, prices can vary greatly depending on how close you live to Chicago. In Kankakee (K3) County, prices can be up to 30¢ per gallon lower than what they are in Chicago. From my experience of working in the south suburbs, just going 40 miles north meant an increase of 8¢ to 10¢ per gallon.

Crazy you think? It gets better.

Go south of here by about a half-an-hour to an hour and you will find prices lower by 5¢ to 10¢ again. Watseka and Champaign will always have lower prices. Makes me want to have excuses to travel there.

 Now some people might think there is some sort of conspiracy going on. When I used my Linked-In connections to find an expert, one of the first questions was on unfair taxes in K3 County. This person wanted to know why our prices are closer to that of Chicago as opposed to some he sees in the Western Burbs.

 I did a lot of searching and found nothing about specific gas taxes for K3 County. There was a proposal in 2008 to get one on the books that would have pushed a tax of 16% on every gallon of gas sold in the county. However, that was voted down in the voting booth in November of 2008 according to http://www.outragenew.org. Thanks to Outrage, that tax never happened.

Furthermore, I am not sure where this person is going in the Western suburbs of Chicago because I have not seen that great of difference when I travel about.  I do notice that our price for gas per gallon is close to the price per gallon of a gas station near the University Park METRA train station. I suspect that is so business will naturally go there. Having travel for work a bit in that area, I would not allow that one gas station to be your barometer for gas prices.

But what I do know is that gas prices at the pump are affected by oil futures market prices. When you listen to the radio you might hear the report of what the price per barrel is currently. I started watching this and noticed that when the price per barrel went up, gas prices here would go up by 15¢ to 20¢ per gallon. And when barrel prices come down, pump prices trickle down by 2¢ to 5¢ per gallon.

Another person who wrote me stated the future market affects the prices as does availability of product, ability to refine the crude to gasoline, taxes (federal, state and local), and various cogs in the machine setting up their profit margins. That does make sense. (Thanks for the good info, Robert) Quite frankly, these businesses do need to make money.

On the other hand, I do not want to be gouged for the mistakes of BP.

Picture by Nacu

Within a week or so of that tragic explosion gas prices in my area went up 30¢ per gallon. So now I am paying for the mistake they are not able to fix. Granted, prices have gone down since then. And perhaps it should.

For the last five years, the public has heard report after report of trillion dollar profits from the oil companies. While Americans are tightening their belts and thinking how to make due on fewer trips in the car, these guys are rolling in the dough by all appearances.

 Instead of making us pay for their mistakes at the gas pump, it is time for these companies to pay for their mistakes. Start with those trillions of profit from the last few years.

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her husband and children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.