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Why does diesel fuel cost so much more?

By Jo Lee Ferguson answerline@news-journal.com
Oct. 24, 2012 at 10 p.m.


<strong>QUESTION:</strong> Could you find out why the cost of diesel is much higher than gasoline? I have heard it is because of higher taxes, but don't vehicles using gasoline use the same road as those using diesel? It doesn't make much sense to me.

<strong>ANSWER:</strong> Nationally, the price of gasoline is running at almost $3.69 a gallon this week, compared with almost $4.12 for diesel. Diesel fuel costs more than gasoline today, but that hasn't always been the norm, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"In some winters where the demand for distillate heating oil is high, the price of diesel fuel has risen above the gasoline price. Since September 2004, the price of diesel fuel has been generally higher than the price of regular gasoline all year round for several reasons," according to an online report from that agency. "Worldwide demand for diesel fuel and other distillate fuel oils has been increasing steadily, with strong demand in China, Europe and the United States putting more pressure on the tight global refining capacity. In the United States, the transition to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel has affected diesel fuel production and distribution costs. Also, the federal excise tax on diesel fuel is 6 cents higher per gallon (24.4 cents per gallon) than the tax on gasoline."

A spokesman for the Energy Information Administration explained to me that the diesel fuel excise tax was set higher than for gasoline by the Tax Reform Act of 1984. (Before then, the taxes were the same.) The change was made in exchange for repealing "a scheduled boost in taxes on heavy trucks," which would have been effective Aug. 1, 1984.

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<strong>Q:</strong> I've been reading about unrest in the Middle East. My question is what are the "Arab Spring" countries?

<strong>A:</strong> The "Arab Spring" started in Tunisia, with dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali being ousted in January 2011. Other protests and civil wars followed in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, with rulers also being toppled in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. (Protests have occurred in other countries as well, and, of course, we've seen that reform after leadership changes and protests has been difficult.)

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<strong>Q:</strong> How old do you have to be to get a library card at the Longview Public Library?

<strong>A:</strong> You can get your own card if you're 18 or older, so you can sign the legal contract that spells out library policies, according to information I found on the library's website. (You also have to live in Texas, provide proof of your residency and have a valid state identification card or driver's license.) However, people ages 4 to 17 also can get a library card if a biological parent or legal guardian signs the legal contract for them.

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<strong>Q:</strong> When is this year's Christmas parade in Longview? What about the other downtown Longview events?

<strong>A:</strong> This year's parade starts at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 (a Thursday) in downtown Longview. The lights for Christmas at the Courthouse, though, will be turned on Thanksgiving Day through Jan. 1. The annual Christmas at the Courthouse activities are the first two full weekends in December - from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 and Dec. 14 and 15. All the activities will once again be free, including two snowhills, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, wagon and train rides, arts and crafts for children, musical entertainment and movies on a big screen on the courthouse lawn each night.

<em>- Email questions to answerline@news-journal.com, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.</em>

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