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Austin Ashlock, Forum News Service, Published July 03 2013

ND drivers hit road for holiday with cheaper gas

GRAND FORKS - On the heels of record-high gas prices, holiday travelers will be getting a much-needed break at the pump this Fourth of July weekend as gas prices continue to fall across North Dakota.

After the North Dakota average hit an all-time high of $4.23 on May 22, the average price of a gallon of unleaded fuel has dropped 63 cents to $3.60 as of Tuesday.

Eugene LaDoucer, of AAA North Dakota, said the regional refinery issues that caused gas prices to skyrocket this spring have been resolved.

“These lowering gas prices are signaling recovery,” LaDoucer said.

According AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, Grand Forks drivers are faring even better than the typical North Dakotan, with the average price per gallon at $3.53 on Tuesday, 1 cent lower than a year ago.

Approximately 34.4 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend according to AAA, a slight decrease from the 34.7 million who traveled in 2012.

While lower gas prices may be a relief for people already planning to travel for Independence Day, LaDoucer said gas prices shouldn’t cause an increase in holiday travel in North Dakota.

“I think people are welcoming the falling prices, but they are still amongst the highest in the county,” LaDoucer said. “It won’t entice too many to travel, but they do have a significant impact on people’s budget.”

Premium gasoline prices are also experiencing a statewide decrease with the average cost per gallon at $3.93, down 35 cents from a month ago. Diesel has seen less of a decrease with the average cost per gallon at $3.94, a 9-cent decrease from a month ago.

Around the nation

While North Dakota prices are no longer the highest in the nation, as they were in May, the statewide average cost per unleaded gallon still ranks 14th highest in the U.S., and is 12 cents above the national average of $3.48.

In Minnesota the average cost per gallon ran at $3.37 Tuesday, the 15th lowest in U.S.

South Carolina has the cheapest gas in the county at $3.17 per gallon and Hawaii has the most expensive with a gallon of unleaded running at an average of $4.32.

LaDoucer said the low prices may not stick around long after the holiday weekend.

“Prices should continue to fall in North Dakota over the next couple days,” LaDoucer said. “But, with the expensiveness of crude oil right now, that shouldn’t last too long. Things should settle out in the coming weeks and prices will begin to rise later in July.”