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For Gas Prices, It's Deja Vu This Holiday Weekend

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It's Deja Vu for Gas Prices This Holiday Weekend
Damian Dovarganes/AP
BY JONATHAN FAHEY

NEW YORK -- The price of gasoline looks familiar this Memorial Day. For the third year in a row, the national average will be within a penny or two of $3.64 a gallon.

Stability wasn't always the norm. Between 2003 and 2008 average retail gasoline prices more than doubled, reaching an all-time high of $4.11 a gallon in 2008. Prices then collapsed as the U.S. plunged into recession. But after a two-year run-up between 2009 and 2011, the price of gasoline has remained in a range of roughly $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon.

Drivers can handle that, according to AAA, and are ready to head out for Memorial Day driving trips in the highest numbers since 2005. "It is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago," AAA wrote in its annual Memorial Day forecast.

Steady gasoline prices are largely the result of relatively steady crude oil prices, even though there has been a long list of global supply disruptions and political turmoil that that typically would push the price of oil higher.

Sanctions have sharply cut output from Iran, once the world's third largest oil exporter. Libya went through civil war, and labor and political disruptions continue to limit its exports. Venezuela's oil output has been steadily declining for a decade. Most recently, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is raising concerns that sanctions will impact production or exports from Russia, the world's second largest exporter after Saudi Arabia.

But rising crude output in countries such as the U.S., Canada and Brazil have offset the declining supply elsewhere, helping to keep prices steady.

Approaching this Memorial Day, the national average is $3.65 a gallon, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Last year on the holiday it was $3.63 a gallon. In 2012 it was $3.64.

The story is similar with other fuels. Through the first quarter of this year airlines are paying $3.03 a gallon for jet fuel -- exactly the same they paid on average for all of last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average price of diesel, $3.93 a gallon, is a nickel higher than last year.

Averages only tell part of the story, though. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and Gasbuddy.com, compares the national average price of gasoline to the average temperature of the country -- outside your door it's almost certainly hotter or cooler than the average.

This year, drivers in the Midwest, Great Plains states and the Rockies are paying quite a bit less than they did a year ago on Memorial Day weekend. The Minnesota average of $3.49 is 78 cents lower than last year, the biggest drop in the nation. Drivers in North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas are all paying at least 50 cents a gallon less.

That's because last year some big Midwest refineries were taken offline to be upgraded to handle cheaper Canadian crude oil. That work is done and the refineries are churning out a lot of fuel, pushing down prices in the region.

The story is different on the coasts, though. Refineries there have to pay higher prices for global crude, and more refineries are seeing downtime in Texas and Louisiana than in recent springs, according to Kloza. Gulf coast refiners supply much of the nation, and especially the coasts, with fuel.

Pennsylvania drivers are paying $3.77 a gallon on average. That's 27 cents higher than last year, the biggest increase in the country. Drivers in the Carolinas and Alabama are paying at least 20 cents more than last year, though they are paying less than the national average.

As usual, California drivers are paying the most in the lower 48 states, at $4.15 a gallon, about 10 cents higher than last Memorial Day weekend.

Across the nation, all U.S. drivers will likely be paying less in the coming weeks, the result of a typical seasonal decline between late spring and early summer.

"Temperate-to-lower prices is the most likely path for the next couple of months," Kloza says. "And then in hurricane season you just cross your fingers."


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17 Comments

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k4jlp

Gasoline at the pump is at the price now because in 1999-2000 Congress passed a bill pushed by former Senator Phil Grahm (Republican of Texas) through to repeal the Glass-Stegle Act of 1933 allowing crude/gas to be put on the Commodity Market. Then after that excuse after excuse allows them to control the supply (via a monopoly) to control the price. There is no shortage of crude or refining capacity, only a shortage of balls in Congress to represent the people of America. They only look after Corporate America now.

May 26 2014 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay

So Why is Michigan so close to California in the cost of gas. We are almost up to $3:90! Time to move to a different State and remember the comment...last one out, turn out the lights! Thanks to Snyder everything here is falling apart!

May 23 2014 at 9:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Merrio Fryman

i remember back in the late 60's gas was 26 cents a gallon. then the BIG oil companies
bought our all the smaller independent companies, thus forming monopolies. they
control the prices now, and our government. a few years back Ma Bell was accused
of being a monopoly and was split into smaller companies, but todays the BIG
controls the prices on just about everything with any stupid excuse.

May 23 2014 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
motherduck46

i don't know where you people get your information from but i live in Riverside California and gas is $3.99 to $4.05 per gallon depending what station it is Arco is the cheapest i just filled up and it was almost $50.00

May 23 2014 at 3:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
toneitup

Heres a head line Gas Prices to darned high!

May 23 2014 at 2:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
buckeye3118

The pricewhas only doubled under PopStar MESSiah's reign, not that the slobbering media would notice.

May 23 2014 at 1:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to buckeye3118's comment
Big John

Get your facts straight, when Obama took office oil and gas was down because you just had the largest financial meltdown since the Great Depression. In June of 2008 gas was close to $4.00 a gallon. In 2000 after eight years of Clinton gas was $1.25 a gallon and after four years of Bush it was over $3.00 a gallon and rose to over $4.00 a gallon. That is a four times increase. If gas was $2.00 a gallon when Obama took office then if he copied Bush it would be at $8.00 a gallon

May 23 2014 at 6:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
focusemail

In Indiana where I live, the price is $3.95 to $3.99 per gallon, the result of a 10 cent per gallon spike two days ago.

May 23 2014 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
republicanslostagain

d.barack,.the hillbilly from Hillbillyville Alabama is a misinformed EBT card holder.

May 23 2014 at 12:08 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
republicanslostagain

Chevron Gives $2.5 Million To House Republican Super PAC

WASHINGTON -- Chevron is firmly behind the House Republican majority. The multibillion-dollar oil company's support is so strong that it has donated $2.5 million to a super PAC working to maintain that majority in the next Congress.

Chevron's contribution to the Congressional Leadership Fund is the largest made by a publicly traded company this election cycle to a super PAC. Other major corporate givers to super PACs include Penske Corp. and Scotts Co.

The oil and gas industry has long been a Republican Party supporter, consistently sending GOP candidates more than 70 percent of the industry's campaign contributions. But that support has increased further in the 2012 cycle: Now 90 percent of the industry's contributions are going to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

President Barack Obama and other Democrats have campaigned in recent years for repealing certain tax breaks to make oil companies "pay their fair share." Companies like Chevron are seeing record profits as gas prices have soared across the country. Congressional Republicans, however, have voted en masse to block any effort to repeal those tax breaks.

Adam Smith, communications director for the campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign, drew a link between Chevron's contribution and the Republican Party's voting record. He said, "$2.5 million to a party who has repeatedly voted to maintain their subsidies is a worthy investment for them."

House Republicans, in fact, have done more than block efforts to repeal tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. They have passed legislation to increase drilling both on and offshore, slash Environmental Protection Agency regulations, route civil suits against oil companies through the friendly U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi), and blocked efforts to deal with speculation in oil markets.

May 23 2014 at 11:57 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Kay

Geez.......where can I get some of the $3.64 per gallon gas? This past Wednesday here in Michigan our gas was $3.68, yesterday it was up to $3.85! Why, because the gas companies know that Michigan is a big vacation state and on the Memorial Day weekend everyone goes to the cabin to open it up, take their campers to the camp ground for the summer or just go to check out new areas. So for every holiday here, the gouge us to the hilt. The prices around here jump around like a rubber ball. Last Tuesday my friend filled up at $3.73 the next morning it was $3.64. Never fails, as soon as we fill up the next day it drops, but if we wait.....

May 23 2014 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply