With Election Past, Will Gas Prices Jump?

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Daily News reports a decrease in gas prices in the Los Angeles area for the 30th consecutive day. The going price dropped below $4 per gallon Wednesday and fell 2.2 more cents Thursday. On average, the price has come down 74.4 cents in the past 30 days, the report said.

Los Angeles was not alone in seeing price drops leading up to the election. The Christian Science Monitor noted two days ago average prices nationwide were down 20.75 cents since Oct. 19. Some of the drop was attributed to price stabilization in California after refinery problems worked themselves out and some due to reduced east coast demand in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Despite today's good news for Los Angelenos, pump prices elsewhere crept upward slightly -- less than one cent on average -- an increase Businessweek linked to post-election volatility stemming from worries about federal budget negotiations.

Annual Gas Price Comparisons

Gas prices vary by as much as a dollar per gallon throughout the nation with pockets on the west coast and New York state suffering the highest prices and the south enjoying the lowest, according to Gas Buddy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects gas prices to average $3.56 per gallon for the fourth quarter of 2012. That's up slightly from the $3.49 per gallon average recorded Nov. 5.

While EIA says this year's overall gas price average will top last year's by 11 cents, coming in at $3.64 per gallon, it's predicting a better year in 2013. The average price for that year should come in at $3.44 per gallon if EIA's estimates hold.

Regional Price Variations Explained

If you're wondering why some South Carolinians pay less than $3 a gallon for the same gas that costs you closer to $4 per gallon, here's how the EIA explains regional price differences. Taxes are one factor. Distance from ports, refineries, pipeline, and blending terminals is another. With the Gulf Coast the source of 23 percent of the country's domestic production, that area traditionally sees a price advantage at the pumps. Competition is another factor influencing prices, causing drivers in remote areas to pay more than drivers living around an abundance of gas stations.

If you live in a region where gas reformulation is required to reduce air pollutants, you can expect to pay more at the pumps than if you don't. EIA says about one-third of the gas sold in the United States is reformulated. California uses a unique blend due to its state environmental controls and its prices sometimes soar when more than one of its refineries go offline.

Despite pre-election speculation that politics was bringing gas prices down, MSNBC's Answer Desk says it didn't uncover any evidence that was the case.

Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about consumer issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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