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Keeping Track: paying at the pump

West is worst place for tanking up

The cost of gasoline this summer is expected to easily surpass last year's high prices, the Energy Information Administration reports.

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As of last Monday, the average retail gas price in the US had climbed 24 cents in four weeks, to $1.66 a gallon - just 5 cents shy of last year's average high. Analysts say refineries, which process crude oil, are filled to capacity and that many more are off-line for maintenance. One consequence: Gasoline inventories are at their lowest level since 1994.

Varying clean-air standards, state taxes, and additive requirements across the country explain price differences among regions.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor