Higher South Fork gas prices targeted by bill

Posted: Updated:

For people who live and work on the South Fork, higher gas prices are just a part of daily life.

The national average this week is at about $2.32 a gallon, but at some East End stations on Monday, it was going for nearly a dollar more, including $3.29 for a gallon of regular at one station.

Large oil companies say they have to charge more because it's more expensive to deliver in rural areas. But critics say that should only amount to a few cents more per gallon, and companies that operate on the South Fork say the extra gas costs add up to a big expense.

The higher gas prices have long been in the crosshairs of state Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who says there's a misconception about the area.

"They perceive this area to be a wealthy tourism area that can afford to pay it," Thiele says. "People that live here year-round, the median income on the East End is actually lower than western Suffolk and Nassau County.”

Thiele has proposed a bill that would prohibit price-fixing based on geography, which he says would dramatically lower gas prices on the South Fork. But the assemblyman says pressure from oil companies has blocked his bill from passing four years in a row.

The Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association says it supports the bill, which Assemblyman Thiele says he'll introduce again next year.

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