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$5-per-gallon gas?

With prices already heating up, American motorists could see gas new record per-gallon highs by early summer.

The Pulse is down today on the fear we may set a new record this summer at the pump.

The Department of Energy announced the average price of a gallon of gas rose to $3.51 yesterday. According to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report, this time last year, gas was $3.12 a gallon. Gas prices heat up as the weather does, but we’ve never broken the $3.50 barrier before March. Not even in the summer of 2008, when the national average soared to more than $4 a gallon.

“This time, the dubious milestone was hit weeks before prices usually rise because of refineries typically shutting down for spring maintenance, and weeks before the prices rise again when states switch from less expensive winter blends of gasoline to more complicated and more expensive summer blends,” writes Ronald D. White in the Los Angeles Times today.

Californians see the worst of high gas prices, typically about 10 percent more per gallon than the national average. White tells us that February is usually the month gas prices fall, but this year Californians are paying 7.7 cents more than they were a week ago. If prices continue on their current trajectory, experts say, by June, drivers in Los Angeles could be paying $5 a gallon at the pump.

California haters will smile at that tidbit, but remember, the rest of us won’t be far behind.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.
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