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Why do gas prices go up in the summer?

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Quick Answer

Gas prices increase during the summer months for several reasons: Americans generally travel more in the summertime, requiring an increase in gas prices among suppliers to meet demand, and environmental regulations established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require special summertime blends that cost more to make and ship; consumers pay the difference in price increases. Gasoline prices fluctuate annually and even during short periods of time due to several factors. Traditionally, they rise between the months of April and September, when cities around the United States must comply with stricterenvironmental regulations controlling vehicle emissions.

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Full Answer

The rise in summertime gas prices due to environmental factors stems from the Clean Air Act. In 1990, that act required compliance among gasoline producers for special reformulated types of gasoline. Petroleum companies must switch production in April to summer blends from winter blends. This move proves financially costly. Production of summer blends requires additional machinery than winter blend production, increasing production cost. It also necessitates prevention of cross-contamination between seasonal blends, which also proves costly. Petroleum companies capture these losses by increasing gas prices, which rise an average of two to four cents, according to the EPA, during the summer.

Additionally, summer blends prove less fuel-efficient than winter gas blends, making consumers purchase more gasoline for driving the same distances as the winter. The increased demand lets companies control and set market prices.

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