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Gas prices could be over $5 for July 4th, expert says

"It's going to be a dicey summer," says petroleum expert Patrick De Haan about gas prices.

MICHIGAN, USA — Gas prices in Michigan and across the country are continuing to rise, reaching record average prices again on Thursday.

GasBuddy lists the national average at $4.73 a gallon for June 2, with Michigan's average price slightly higher at $4.80 a gallon.

With July 4th only about a month away, gas prices are expected to continue to rise through the holiday.

"We can see prices in excess of $5 a gallon and you know, if there's any exceptional events $6 a gallon. I mean, that's very low level of possibility. You know, maybe one in 100 shot at that, but it's going to be a dicey summer. Don't expect much relief. I certainly don't see any price under $4 anytime soon," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

The sudden and dramatic rise in prices has been caused by multiple factors, which makes predicting future prices difficult.

One of the main factors contributing to the sudden rise of prices is the Russian war on Ukraine.

"Russia is one of the world's largest oil producers. When they make an unprovoked invasion of a country, other countries are going to have to respond to protect themselves. And in this case, many countries cut off Russian oil to penalize Russia is an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. And this is the outcome especially when one of those parties involved is one of the largest oil producers in the country," De Haan explains.

There are also other factors that contributed to the rise in gas prices, including a lack of supply from refineries shutting down during COVID and oil embargos against Russia due to the war.

All of those factors cause a large drop in supply in the world market at a time when demand is finally start to increase again as COVID becomes less of a problem worldwide.

A common misconception that people make is that the price of oil, and in turn the price of gas and diesel, can be directly affected by a president's actions.

"A lot of people have have said that, oh, you know, President Biden has shut down this and that. But a lot of the shutdown actually occurred while President Trump was still in the Oval Office. And that was because of COVID. You can't blame President Trump for shutting down production because he didn't do it. COVID did," De Haan added.

With gas prices at such a high rate that it is beginning to affect the lives and spending power of Americans, temporarily removing gas taxes or changing how the state derives revenue from drivers has been proposed.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy proposed that instead of taxing fuel directly, Michigan drivers would have to pay a mileage-based user fee. The plan would charge drivers on how many miles they drove instead of how many gallons of gas they purchase. The plan would look a lot like how Michiganders currently pay for utilities like electricity or water.

"Tesla's driving around without paying a gas tax, and is that really fair? Are they paying their fair share for the road. So inevitably, there's going to have to be a different system years down the road. And I don't know if that's going to look like tolls. Because the more you use the roads, the more you should pay for them," De Haan said.

The Michigan Senate has pushed forward several bills that could suspend a gas tax for the summer. The bills are currently in committee after passing in the Senate and moving to the Michigan House of Representatives.

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