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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jun 4, 2013 9:43 PM Flag

    Regional Gas Price Spikes Pose New Challenges for Industry, Lawmakers

    Regional Gas Price Spikes Pose New Challenges for Industry, Lawmakers

    By Lauren Gardner
    Roll Call Staff
    June 4, 2013, 1:57 p.m.

    Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer driving season โ€” and in recent years that has meant steadily rising gas prices. But for the second consecutive year, drivers filling their tanks for holiday road trips paid less at the pump on average than a year earlier.

    And AAA motor club, which pegged the average retail price for a gallon of gasoline nationally at $3.63 on May 27, projects that prices will continue to drop this summer.

    Despite this bright picture nationally,not everybody has been enjoying cheap gasoline. Across much of the upper Midwest and the Pacific Coast, price spiked to more than $4 a gallon just before Memorial Day. Ironically, some of the hardest-hit areas โ€” such as North Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska โ€” are near the sources of booming North American oil production, such as the Bakken shale formations and the Western Canadian tar sands.

    The regional price spikes pose new challenges for industry and policymakers. In past summers, the primary driver of higher gas prices has been supply shortages and the high cost of crude oil on world markets. But crude oil prices are down from a year earlier, and the Energy Information Administration projects they will fall further in the year ahead.

    Private sector and government analysts say the regional spikes in gasoline prices can be blamed on a high number of planned and unplanned refinery outages, which affect areas served by the facilities. Earlier this year, malfunctions or breakdowns caused unplanned refinery shutdowns on top of

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