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Analysts: Midwest drivers to see lower gas prices

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The worst may be over for drivers in the upper Midwest who have been grappling with the highest gasoline prices in the continental U.S.

Analysts said one major Illinois refinery is back online and another big one in Indiana is on track to ramp up production again soon. The refineries' ongoing maintenance — which led to reduced supply and higher prices — are the primary culprits for the surge at the pump.

"On balance I think the worst is over," Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, said Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil's refinery in Joliet, Ill., was offline longer than expected, he said. Assuming there are no hiccups with BP's plans to soon restart a crude unit at its refinery in Whiting, Ind., prices could drop below $4 a gallon within weeks throughout a five-state region stretching from Wisconsin to Ohio, according to experts.

"You just have one refinery issue after another. As they're coming back on, that should be a big thing," said Phil Flynn, chief energy analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

AAA said Michigan's average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gas was $4.20 on Tuesday, topped only by Hawaii and well above the national average of $3.63 per gallon. Motorists in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were paying above $4 on average, while drivers in Ohio were shelling out $3.90.

With many people preparing to hit the road for their summer vacations, public anger over the high price of gas is building in Michigan. One Republican lawmaker is drafting a bill designed to entice construction of a new refinery in the state and Democrats are questioning the state attorney general's commitment to investigating high prices.

Anton Fellinger, who lives near Detroit in Macomb County's Washington Township, finds the high pump prices particularly acute with his 2008 Chevrolet Silverado.

"My blood boils every time I put gas in it," he said. "I'm biting the bullet right now, but if this continues I might pull the trigger and get something that gets me 30 miles per gallon."

Fellinger, who drives about 18 miles to work, found a more economical mode of transport on Tuesday: his motorcycle. But that option is limited in northern states such as Michigan. His saving grace on days he drives the Silverado is a local gas station that offers free car washes for customers who buy at least eight gallons of gas.

"I've just been racking up the free car washes," he said. "I might as well get something out of it."

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  • Separation of Corp and State
    Corporate campaign contributions are at the root cause of more problems than just $4 gasoline. It is time to make corporate funding of politics illegal. It is killing the middle class.
  • Seriously
    I despise these irrational theories. I'd love to see a tiny bit of supporting evidence it has anything to do with the president. Hurricanes cause gas spikes, would those be a presidents fault as well? Regarding the taxes in the other comment. You forgot about local taxes. However the price differential based on regions, including state lines, is not solely based on taxes. Think about the transportation of the gas to rural regions far from where the oil is refined. Things like this, amongst many others, are factors in the price. The major factors in gas prices: oil prices, refineries (geographical location and problems), taxes (federal, state, and local), any disruptions in the process getting it to the station, ect. The president can only lower/ raise the price immediately by releasing oil from the reserves, lowering oil prices (note this is not the problem this time) or by lowering/raising the taxes. Most moves the president would make are going to be long term/ gradual effects on the price. For example, increasing car efficiencies. I almost forgot, regional prices change based on climate as well. Different fuel blends must be used when its warmer hence the term "summer blend" that increases the price during the summer. This also has less additives so it should increase your MPG.
  • Really...
    It doesn't take analysts to observe the price on te signs. I think it's clear it's heading down now given the 40 cent drop over the week. The analyst mistimed this one.
  • Gas not as hign in South IN
    Last Friday in Jackson and Lawrence counties, I saw gas for $3.75, $3.85, $3.89 and some over $4, but mostly under $4. So why didn't the so-called refinery problems affect those counties?
  • Taxes often overlooked in cost
    Gasoline sold in Indiana has one of the highest State and Federal excise taxes and is definitely in the top 10. The average tax among all states is $0.49 per gallon, yet Indiana is at $0.585 per gallon. To put it in perspective, if you fill up a small/mid-sized car with over 10 gallons, you could be paying more than $6.00 in taxes alone each time. What about SUVs and other larger vehicles? The above average amount doesn't seem to be that much of a difference, but for the middle income family, it adds up and may put a strain on monetary resources. It seems the state legislature has a hand (or could have one) to ease the burden on Indiana drivers, yet this doesn't seem to be in their radar. If more people contacted those government officials whose represented them, maybe there would be a chance.
  • They predicted it!
    Well, they said gas would soon be over $4/gallon if Obama was elected again. Why is everyone so surprised??
    • Gas Prices
      I will never understand why gas prices are not regulated. All utilities are regulated since the government knows everyone needs natural gas, water, electricity, why not gasoline? Most likely because of the millions of dollars donated to the political parties by the gas companies. It should be a reasonable fixed cost.

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