Monday, March 21, saw an average national gas price of $1.98 per gallon, the highest pump price since January, after gas prices climbed for two straight weeks.
According to a report by AAA, the national average price may soon hit or surpass $2. But despite the uptick in prices, drivers are still saving 44 cents per gallon compared to this time last year.
A number of factors are driving prices higher. As weather gets warmer, people drive more, which increases demand for gas. Simultaneously, refineries conduct maintenance this time of year to prepare for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production. What’s more, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated because it causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures, AAA pointed out.
An imbalance between supply and demand has pushed West Coast prices even higher. For the second consecutive week, California ($2.68) has the highest average price for retail gasoline. Second-place Hawaii is paying $2.55. The nation’s least expensive market for retail gasoline is New Jersey ($1.73), which is also the only state with an average price below $1.75 per gallon.