Consumers Clobbered by Sky-High Gas Prices in February

High crude oil prices, investor speculation and refinery maintenance have propelled gas prices sky high.

Americans spent 5.5 billion additional hours sitting in traffic in 2011, a study found.

"From a geopolitical standpoint, it would give us a huge advantage," says a spokesman for Clean Energy Fuels.

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"We can certainly foresee $4 per gallon gas," Laskoski says. "We can't rule that out."

Faulkner agrees: "Gas prices will continue to rise—we will test the $4 mark or even go above. California has already seen gas prices above $5 a gallon."

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But as much as $4 a gallon sound scary to consumers now, the norms are changing Breitling says. Back when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, gas was around $1.89 a gallon and when it began to rise, some said the nation would see a dramatic shift in driving habits with more people riding bikes or using public transit. That hasn't really been the case, after 10 years of higher gas prices, which have made consumers increasingly numb to sky-high gas prices.

"$4 [a gallon gas] used to be freak-out time," Faulkner says. "Now it's close to that and folks are saying, 'Well, I guess that's just the new norm.' As a nation we've almost become numb to these kinds of numbers."

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