The Gas Pumps Are an Investment

California’s gas-car phaseout brings turmoil to mom-and-pop gas stations

Lorie O’Neil, left, and Dora Schmahl, the owners of the Gasoline Station in downtown Salinas, stand behind their gas pumps on a Wednesday afternoon.(Photo: JOSHUA SUDOCK/SALINAS REBECCA BARR, FOR THE REGISTER)

It’s a typical early winter day in Salinas. The sun is warm, but the temperature is just below zero by the time the light hits the pavement of a downtown street. Across the street, dozens of red gas pumps are stacked on one another like cordwood, the fuel they all use is sold at a discount, and the gasoline is inexpensive.

But this morning it’s different.

A cluster of black vehicles from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and state Sen. Bill Monning’s office have turned a corner in the crosswalk on El Paseo Street, spilling onto the sidewalk and parking along the curb. The cars and their headlights blind me, the temperature is so low, and I’m trying to figure out if I should turn my camera off or not.

The politicians are trying to convince gas station owners in Salinas to sell off their gas pumps as part of the state’s proposed cap-and-trade program.

“We’re not going to be able to afford the costs of this,” the gas station owners tell me. “We’re going to close our pumps.”

Gas pumps are an expensive investment. It just costs $40 a day, per pump, to fill your car up at a service station. The pump in my car is the same one as the one in the gas station’s that I use.

The same is true at home as well. There are pumps in my garages as well as in my backyard and on the street, and my garage and home are stocked with the same gas. I can go days without filling up.

But the gas pumps are a big investment, and gas stations can’t just close their pumps and move to a new business model, regardless of the cost. The gas stations will not just go away, they

Leave a Comment