Energy Business

The 10 States With the Cheapest Gas

5. New Mexico
> Price/gallon: $3.49
> Population: 2.1 million (15th lowest)
> Gas taxes per gallon: 37.3 cents (8th lowest)
> Cost to fill F-150: $90.64
> Operating refineries: 2 (tied for 17th highest)

New Mexico is one of just five states where the average gas price was below $3.50 a gallon as of Wednesday. Drivers benefit from low taxes, paying just 37.3 cents per gallon in taxes, among the nation’s lowest rates. But like the rest of the nation, prices in New Mexico have risen recently. In late January, a gallon was just $3.04, or 45 cents less than the current price. In a state where the median household income was among the nation’s lowest, at $41,963 in 2011, this steep increase could make gas far less affordable for many residents.

4. Idaho
> Price/gallon: $3.45
> Population: 1.6 million (12th lowest)
> Gas taxes per gallon: 43.4 cents (25th lowest)
> Cost to fill F-150: $89.75
> Operating refineries: 0

The price of a gallon of gas in Idaho is up by 36 cents compared to just a month ago, one of the smallest increases compared to other states. While the state is not part of the Bakken Shale formation and has no operating refineries of its own, it is located immediately next to states like Montana, which is part of the formation, and Wyoming, which has six operating refineries.

3. Utah
> Price/gallon: $3.43
> Population: 2.9 million (17th lowest)
> Gas taxes per gallon: 42.9 cents (24th lowest)
> Cost to fill F-150: $89.13
> Operating refineries: 5 (tied for 6th highest)

One month ago, the price of a gallon of gas in Utah was just $3.00. But as the price of a gallon has risen an average of 44 cents nationwide, prices in Utah have kept pace. The state did not always have cheap gas prices. As recently as November 2012, Utah actually had far higher gas prices than the national average. According to the EIA, the state’s five refineries primarily process crude oil from many of the other states on this list and from Canada. Last year marked the completion of a pipeline that now transports gasoline from Wood’s Cross, Utah, to Las Vegas.

2. Montana
> Price/gallon: $3.28
> Population: 1.0 million (7th lowest)
> Gas taxes: 46.2 cents (22nd highest)
> Cost to fill F-150: $85.23
> Operating refineries: 4 (tied for 9th highest)

Montana has the second-lowest gas prices of all states, improving from third lowest a month ago and fourth lowest a year ago. Montana’s low gas prices cannot be attributed to low taxes since taxes are higher than the majority of states. Rather, the state’s prices are a result of the availability of its own oil resources and its proximity to other oil producing areas in the U.S. and Canada. Canadian crude oil is available for a lower price in the area and the eastern part of Montana — along with western North Dakota — is part of the Bakken Shale, which has been opened up to more extensive drilling in recent years.

1. Wyoming
> Price/gallon: $3.27
> Population: 576,000 (the lowest)
> Gas taxes: 32.4 cents (2nd lowest)
> Cost to fill F-150: $85.07
> Operating refineries: 6 (tied for 4th highest)

Wyoming’s oil deposits and multiple oil refineries have consistently helped lower gas prices in the state enough that they have been the cheapest in the country for some time now. Although prices currently remain the lowest in the U.S., Wyoming previously held that distinction more firmly than it does now. Last month, gas prices were just $2.84 a gallon — 12 cents less than the next-lowest state. Total gas taxes in the state are just 32.4 cents a gallon, lower than any other state except Alaska. The lower gas prices have also helped make Wyoming the most affordable state in terms of transportation.