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A Facebook post blames Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for high gasoline prices in Pennsylvania.
High gas taxes are one reason Pennsylvania’s gas prices are higher, but large increases result from a law that was adopted before he took office.
Across the country, lower gasoline prices — dipping to below $1 per gallon, in some places — have been one byproduct of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pennsylvania is the exception, according to a Facebook post that blames Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. It says:
"Pennsylvania gasoline — $2.27/gallon. Ohio gasoline — 99 cents/gallon. Actually, 13 states under a dollar! Thanks Gov. Wolf!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Even within a state, gas prices vary, of course. Leaving aside the precise cost of a gallon of regular unleaded on a given day, it’s fair to say that Pennsylvania’s gas prices are on the high end nationally.
But gas taxes are only one reason gas prices vary among the states. And large gas tax hikes in Pennsylvania were done with a law that was enacted before Wolf was elected.
On May 2, the day of the Facebook post, the average price of regular gas in Pennsylvania was $2.03 per gallon, the American Automobile Association told PolitiFact. Forty states had averages of $1.99 or less.
That post was removed while we were preparing this fact-check. But the same image was posted by another Facebook user on May 4.)
On May 6, as we prepared this fact-check, the average price per gallon in Pennsylvania was $2.028 — ninth-highest in the country, according to AAA. Oklahoma was lowest, at $1.391.
In a comment to his post, the Facebook user cited an April 20 news article from a San Francisco TV station. That article cited a report three days earlier from GasBuddy.com, an app that tracks gas prices, that said gas prices were under $1 in 13 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania’s total gas tax (state plus federal) is 77.1 cents per gallon. That is second only to California’s 79 cents, as of Jan. 1, 2020, according to the American Petroleum Institute. (The federal tax alone is 18.4 cents per gallon.)
Pennsylvania’s gas tax is more than twice as high as the tax in three of the other 13 states cited in the Facebook post (Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma). Here are the total gas taxes in those 13 states, in cents per gallon:
Arkansas (43.2), Colorado (40.4), Iowa (48.9), Kansas (42.43), Kentucky (44.4), Michigan (60.38), Mississippi (37.19), Missouri (35.82), New York (63.43), Ohio (56.91), Oklahoma (38.4), Virginia (40.35) and Wisconsin (51.3).
Asked why Pennsylvania’s prices at the pump are higher than in the other 13 states, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told PolitiFact it’s generally because of the state’s higher gas tax. But there are also regional factors, he said.
Distance from supply, supply disruptions, and retail competition and operating costs all play a role, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a federal office.
Marc Stier, director of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, noted that states such as Arizona, which has one of the lowest gas taxes, and Nevada, which is roughly in the middle, have higher gas prices than Pennsylvania.
As of May 6, according to AAA, the average price per gallon was less than 1 cent higher in Arizona than in Pennsylvania, but more than 30 cents higher in Nevada.
When we asked Wolf’s office about the Facebook post, we were referred to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. A spokesman responded by citing a 2013 Pennsylvania law that raised money for transportation.
Stier said he is not aware of any attempts by Wolf, who took office in 2015, to reduce gas taxes.
A Facebook post blamed Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for gas prices in Pennsylvania being higher than in 13 other states, where prices had dropped recently to lower than $1 per gallon in some places, while prices in Pennsylvania were above $2
A recent survey found gas prices under $1 in 13 states.
Pennsylvania has the second-highest gas tax in the nation and gas taxes are a major reason why gas is more expensive in Pennsylvania.
But large increases in Pennsylvania’s gas tax took place under a law that was adopted before Wolf was elected. And there are other reasons — distance from supply, supply disruptions, and retail competition and operating costs — that cause gas prices to vary by region.
We rate the Facebook post Mostly False.
Facebook, post, May 2, 2020 (Post removed)
Facebook, post, May 4, 2020
Email, American Automobile Association spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano, May 6, 2020
Email, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, May 6, 2020
American Automobile Association, "State Gas Price Averages," May 6, 2020
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Why is Pennsylvania's gas tax so high? We've got a lot of roads," Aug. 5, 2019
American Petroleum Institute, "State Motor Fuel Taxes," Jan. 1, 2020
Email, American Petroleum Institute spokesman Scott Lauermann, May 6, 2020
Associated Press, "Corbett signs $2.3 billion Pa. transportation bill," posted Nov. 25, 2013, updated Jan 05, 2019
Email, Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, May 6, 2020
ABC7news.com, "Gas Prices Fall To Under $1 In 13 States As Demand Drops During Pandemic," April 20, 2020
GasBuddy.com, "These Six States Are Seeing Lowest Gas Prices In Over A Decade," April 17, 2020
WHYY-TV, "Tracking the tax increases and decreases in Gov. Tom Wolf’s first term," Jan. 14, 2019
Email, Jeffrey Johnson, communications director, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, May 5, 2020
Email, Emily Roderick, press assistant, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, May 5, 2020
U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Why are gasoline prices higher in some regions?," Jan. 10, 2020
Meadville Tribune "Gov. Wolf: Gas tax paying for more than $200M worth of local road, bridge projects," May 26, 2017
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