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Texas tea's getting more pricey

Star Tribune, WASHINGTON - Gas prices are on the rise again. Though supply is available, out-dated U.S. refineries can't kick out enough gasoline to meet demand. Prices are rising before the summer driving season, and some say it could get as high as $4 per gallon. [full story here]

But not everyone agrees. On Wednesday, the Pioneer Press reported that gas prices remained stable on Wednesday as the market prices climbed 36 cents. The national average now rests around $2.85 per gallon, and some say that's about where it'll stay. This reporter, however, saw the prices spike last week when her local gas station bumped its price up 20 cents overnight.

There are reasons. U.S. gas inventories are lower than they've been in 20 years. U.S. are working at roughly 88% capacity, and they simply aren't producing enough. Furthermore, they're dated. No refineries have been built since 1976, and the U.S. currently relies on Europe for the majority of its oil refinement. With an expected union strike at Belgian refineries (which collectively produce about 1 million barrells of refined oil each day), gas prices could easily jump again.

American motorists are also to blame for the rise in the prices. According to the most recent report released by the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration (EIA), gasoline consumption grew 2.3 percent over the last month alone, and and 2.2 percent over the past year.

But there is some faintly glimmering hope. If the strike doesn't happen and if the U.S. refineries can keep up without any glitches, major natural disasters or shut-downs, prices may not be so high.

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