Last Updated Jun 30, 2010 12:24 PM EDT
BP gas stations have been stung by a consumer boycott of the oil-spilling giant, so corporate is going to help. BP PLC has offered its distributors a rebate of up to 2 cents per gallon of gas; whether they pass those savings along to customers is up to each distributor, though. The oil giant is hoping the rebate will help out station operators (many of whom are distributors) and tempt bargain-hunting consumers back.
The rebate is for 1 cent per gallon in most parts of the country and 2 cents per gallon in the Gulf Coast region, reports the Associated Press. Station owners in the Gulf region have reported sales declines as high as 40 percent.
So, will that pull you into the next BP station you pass? Should it? Here are some thoughts:
- If your motivations for avoiding BP are green, it only matters at the margin. Boycotting BP does send a statement of disapproval about the firm's safety practices and management of the oil spill still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. But as Slate reports, it's not like most other oil companies are that much cleaner. Eco-friendly web guide Greenopia actually ranks BP third on its list of the greenest oil companies, although Better World Handbook gives BP a much lower grade. But here's the real deal: Driving any significant distance out of your way to avoid BP is actually worse for Mother Earth than simply buying gas at whatever station is closest.
- Your savings won't be great. Even if you're a Gulf Coaster saving 2 cents a gallon (and remember there's no requirement that the distributors and station owners pass through the savings to consumers), you'll save roughly $20 over an entire year if you go through 20 gallons a week. Gee, thanks! Gasoline at Costco and other discount outlets will save you a lot more than that. You can find the cheapest gas near you by using MapQuest's gas station finder or the GasBuddy phone app.
- It's not where you drive, it's how you drive. You'll save much more on gas by driving in a fuel efficient way. That means emptying the trunk of heavy items, keeping the windows rolled up when you're on the highway, taking the bike rack off of the top of your car when you're not carrying your bike, and not speeding or tailgating. Oh, and here's one more gas and money saving tip for those in the Northeast: Get a speed pass for your car. It's worth it just to bypass all the toll booths in New Jersey, even if your fuel savings from not waiting on tollboth lines won't amount to a BP rebate.
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