I am convinced that part of what annoys us about gas prices, beyond the high prices themselves, is being reminded of the high prices, which are posted on every corner. We can't avoid thinking about them, even if we'd really rather not.
Especially right now. According to AAA's invaluable Fuel Gauge Report for Wisconsin, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Madison today (Thursday the 6th) is $3.97. That's up three cents from yesterday, 16 cents from a week ago, and 32 cents from a month ago. That's not the highest price in Wisconsin, however--in fact, it's below the statewide average, which is $4.00 even. In Milwaukee, they're paying $4.06, and in Janesville and Green Bay it's $3.99. In Madison, we're paying about 35 cents more than the national average. It's supposedly got something to do with a couple of oil refineries in Chicago that are not producing right now. That lack of production is squeezing the supply, which makes the price go up.
The AAA's national report is pretty interesting, too. You'd expect the prices in Alaska and Hawaii to be high, and they are--$4.06 and $4.36, respectively--but there are some eye-popping numbers elsewhere. In Michigan right now, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $4.23, in Illinois $4.15, in Indiana $4.11. (Blame those Chicago refineries again.) The cheapest gas I could find is in South Carolina, where the average price is $3.21.
The good news is that when those two refineries in Chicago start producing again, the supply of gasoline in the Upper Midwest will increase and the price will start to fall. The bad news is that lots of us are going to need to fill up again before that happens.