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Gas Prices To Keep Climbing This Summer: 'Taking It On The Chin'

DENVER (CBS4) - We've hit an expensive milestone in Colorado and across the country. Gas prices continue to climb, reaching a new high on Monday and it's not expected to drop for quite some time.

As of Monday, the average price per gallon for regular unleaded fuel is $4.11 in Colorado. It's lower than the national average of $4.48, but some counties in the state are paying more than $5 per gallon. According to AAA, the highest price for fuel in Colorado is in Pitkin County at $5.08.

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"Coloradans should expect prices to continue to climb throughout the summer," said Skyler McKinley of AAA Colorado.

No matter which way you slice it, gas prices hurt.

"It is frustrating to pay what we're paying at the pump when it costs you $60-100 to fill up your sedan," he said.

Prices at the pump are sucking cash from our wallets and adding anxiety as inflation is in overdrive. McKinley explained some of this was expected this year.

"Heading into 2022, we were already shaping up to have an expensive gas year," he told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "That's a function of the pandemic."

McKinley said there's a combination of things driving up prices; demand is back up after COVID-19 slowed down demand and gas production, summer travel is near so that sends costs up, and the decision to stop buying Russian oil following the invasion of Ukraine.

"Which was the right moral and ethical choice, but that sent the markets further skyward on the supply side," he said.

Also, it's that time of year when we switch to a summer blend of fuel, which typically adds 15 cents per gallon.

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"This is all about ozone protection. The summer blend goes through some additional refinement which just costs more to produce in order to protect our air," said McKinley.

Add it all up, and it's downright painful to fill your tank.

"Folks working three jobs and driving between those jobs and spending a lot of money on fuel," McKinley said, "those folks are really taking it on the chin from this."

The pain is worse for those who use diesel. The average in Colorado is $5.36 per gallon, and it's nearly a quarter more nationally at $5.56. Even if you don't use diesel in your personal vehicle, that's what drives the economy – from semitrucks to trains, diesel fuels how most of our goods are delivered.

"Diesel will be the thing to watch for consumers. Diesel is spiraling very quickly with very high prices," said McKinley. "Diesel gets everything from the groceries in the store to diapers for your children. The cost for shipping goods with diesel fuel is factored into almost every transaction we pay in the U.S. I would expect to see some additional inflation because of the high prices of diesel fuel right now."

So, what can we do to make ends meet so the pain at the pump isn't so awful? McKinley offered some advice.

"When it comes to driving, know that generally the crazier you drive, the worse your fuel economy," he said. "Fuel economy tops off at about 55mph for most vehicles, so if you're speeding, you tend to lose a lot of efficiency. Similarly, if you're inclined to jackrabbit starts where you slam on the gas the second the light turns green, that's going to burn some fuel."

He also suggested taking off unused roof racks for better fuel efficiency and unloading any extra weight like sports gear or whatever you may keep in your car.

"There are some behavioral choices you can make, some are really easy and they can add up over time," he said. "If you live on the Front Range, there's some robust public transportation options. That's your tax dollars at work. You should be using public transportation when it's workable. Try it once a month, try biking to work once a month, try walking on an errand if you're able to. Now's an excellent time to try it out."

Afterall, if you think prices are bound to drop sometime soon – think again.

"This is the new normal and it will be for some time," McKinley said. "They likely will fall a little after Labor Day, but there's some open questions on that including what happens with international politics...domestic production...and, what we're not even talking about yet, what could be a bad hurricane season which would limit domestic production and refining."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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