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Gas prices, still climbing, are now just one thin dime from $4 a gallon

Gas prices jumped 5 cents a gallon last week on average, says AAA's Fuel Gauge Report, even as oil prices stabilized a bit. When gas prices reach $4 a gallon, motorists begin to change their habits.

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Even as the refiners make that shift, gasoline wholesalers are trying to use up the last of their winter gasoline. “That results in a drop in gasoline supplies,” says Mr. Ash. “It’s worth noting that California has already shifted over to its summer blend,” says Ash. The price of gasoline has fallen a few cents a gallon in the Golden State but is still high at $4.33 a gallon, on average.

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While gasoline prices nationally climb toward $4 a gallon, Congress has been debating a bill that would repeal the oil companies’ use of certain tax deductions. The legislation, which is expected to come to a vote Monday evening in the Senate, is likely to include some amendments, such as expedited passage of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanded drilling on federal lands. The measure is not expected to get enough votes to avoid a filibuster, says Pete Davis of Davis Capital Investment Ideas, which provides intelligence to Wall Street. “This is just more posturing for the election,” writes Mr. Davis.

A recent Gallup poll on the US energy situation indicates that the public favors construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, 57 percent to 29 percent. The poll also found that 91 percent of the public say the energy situation in the US is either very serious or fairly serious.

Ash says an AAA poll in early March found that 84 percent of the public say they are changing their driving habits because of gasoline prices. Some 60 percent of respondents say they now combine trips and errands, and 33 percent say they are planning to scale back their driving for their spring vacations.

Unfortunately, air travel may be no less expensive than driving. According to FareCompare.com, Southwest Airlines raised fare prices Monday by $6 to $10 per round trip. This follows a price increase last Thursday of $10 round trip for JetBlue. The last time both airlines raised their fares, the other airlines followed soon after. This is the fifth price increase this year for the industry.

RECOMMENDED: Five ways Americans are coping with $4 a gallon gas prices 

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