As we consider the increasingly compelling evidence of wink-and-nod price-fixing of gasoline in Utah, we also should consider the substandard quality of the product being sold. "Regular" unleaded sold in Utah is rated at 85 octane — two points below the typical, nationwide, 87 octane standard.

Supposedly, 85 octane fuel is acceptable at high altitudes (engine-damaging at lower altitudes). But while the wholesale cost of this substandard fuel is undoubtedly lower, the savings are obviously not passed on to the consumer.

Market forces? I don't buy it.

In a recent editorial (Aug. 21), the Deseret News rhetorically asked why, if truly intent upon price-gouging, Utah gas retailers weren't charging $4 a gallon for "regular" back in 2006 instead of stopping at merely $2.80 a gallon (42 cents above the national average). The answer, of course, is that it would have been too blatant.

Nationwide price comparisons typically fail to consider octane rating. That makes it easier for them to get away with gouging.

Mark Terran

Salt Lake City