Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Gas prices are on the rise throughout the Midwest, and they won't be dropping any time soon.
According to the American Automobile Association, two Midwest refineries have closed for routine maintenance, but for longer than normal, impacting the supply and, therefore, cost of fuel.
In Dubuque, the Mississippi River level may be dropping, but gas prices are not.
Dubuque driver Bill Slaght said he hears a lot of complaints about gas prices and gets why.
"I go out of town about once or twice a week, so I spend quite a bit of money on gas," he said while fueling up his car. "It would great if they could come down a little bit."
According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average for a gallon of gas Thursday morning was $3.76, up 23 cents from that day's average one year ago and up 16 cents from Thursday's national average.
For Dubuque's tri-state neighbors, prices are higher.
The Illinois statewide average Thursday morning was $3.98 a gallon. In Wisconsin, it was $3.81.
AAA spokesperson Gail Weinholzer said two Midwest refineries in the Chicagoland area - one Exxon, one BP - have closed for routine maintenance, switching winter grade fuel over to summer grade fuel.
What's not routine is the length of time they expect to be closed. Both shut down earlier this spring for maintenance and neither expect to open up by Memorial Day, one of the nation's heaviest travel weekends.
For Corey Ellerbach, whose Dubuque landscaping business requires quite a bit of driving, rising gas prices threaten profits.
"We spend probably right around $100 to $130 per fleet per week easily, sometimes up to $200, $300 a week per fleet, and I usually run two or three of them, so the more money that gas is, the less money that I make, I guess," he said while fueling up at a gas station.
Weinholzer said the two Midwest refineries are expected to open sometime between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and once they open again, it takes anywhere from days to weeks to get back to full production, so Iowa likely won't see a significant break in gas prices for weeks.
If nothing else, Weinholzer said, Iowans can say they don't have it as bad as Minnesota. The neighbor to the north set an all-time statewide average gas price record Thursday at $3.99 a gallon and is on track to break it again Friday, Weinholzer said.
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