Price of gas a combustible crisis in northern MN

Gas prices reaching $4.50 in some places have northern Minnesotans hopped up on angry fumes. It reflects a jump of more than a dollar a gallon in just over a week.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Rep. Rick Nolan, are all calling for federal investigations of price fixing. The reason given for the sharp rise is the scheduled shutdown of two refineries in the region for repairs. Nevertheless, given northern Minnesota’s proximity to North Dakota and various pipelines that story is hard for some to believe.

This from Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8):

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) . . . With weekend mid-grade gas prices hitting $4.50 per gallon in some parts of Minnesota (, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is calling on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to convene immediate hearings on the spike prior to the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

In a statement issued along with the letters, Nolan said:

“It cannot be perceived as coincidence that every year at this time, as Minnesotans plan their Memorial Day Weekend vacation and fishing trips up north, the price of gas skyrockets.

As every Minnesota motorist knows, the price of gasoline is out of control, it is outrageous, and something must be done for the sake of our tourist industry and our economy.

On Saturday morning, the price for mid-grade hit $4.50 in some parts of central Minnesota. Marinas are charging well over $5.00 to boaters.

Whether this is due to market forces, which is doubtful, or whether it is due to rampant speculation and market manipulation by the oil companies, which is probable, we need to get to the bottom of it and get these prices under control.

With that in mind, I have asked the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Agriculture Committee, and their appropriate subcommittees, to convene hearings at the earliest possible date to get to the truth of the matter and put these oil companies on notice that the Congress and the American people will no longer stand for this kind of unconscionable gouging.”

I live in the woods, about half an hour from the town where my kids go to school and half an hour the other way to the town where I work. So gas is a significant expense in our monthly budget. These price increases sure don’t help, but we’re lucky in that we can afford to pay for gas and my status as an online teacher means I don’t have to drive to campus as often. Many working class people have to eat a bigger percentage of their household income to handle this.

Now, I am familiar with the analysis suggesting that U.S. gas prices have long been lower than the world average, in part due to government subsidy and our “drive first” mentality in this country. It’s all a good argument for more public transportation and fuel efficient vehicles. But the rural poor in particular — “my people,” so to speak — would be the last served by advances here.


  1. The refinery argument is hard for Rick Nolan to believe, apparently, and the only real reason for that is that he is apparently a fool. Or he understands and is simply being a demagogue because he thinks his constituency is comprised of fools. The North Dakota oil has nothing to do with it. That is relatively new production and there is a refinery being built which will utilize that oil and help alleviate this but it won’t be online for some time. Serious people have realized we have a refinery problem for some time but apparently Nolan is not a serious man. And Nolan’s first instinct is to oppose anything which would exert a downward pressure on prices.

  2. Whether or Not Rick Nolan Is a Fool Is irrelevant. The fact remains that Minnesotas economy thieves on the Exploring the state being the lakes or the campgrounds either way it takes fuel. Shutting down a refinery at the peak or Jumpstart to this season hurts the mom and pop businesses that families depend on. So the previous statement seems to mislead the reader. Sounds like a message from a real Fool!

  3. May everyone who attacks me in print be as unfamiliar with the English language…

  4. Amen David. And to think, these folks get to vote…as many times as it takes.

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