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Gasoline prices tumble but remain at seasonal highs

November 21, 2011 | 11:29 am

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Retail gasoline prices fell more over the last week than they have in months in both California and around the nation, but don't get too excited. They still have to drop a lot more in the coming weeks to fall below historic highs for this time of the year.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said prices have finally fallen, sinking to their lowest levels since February. But he added, "Many motorists may be giving thanks for the lower gasoline prices -- until they realize that average prices will still easily exceed prior Thanksgiving Day records."

GasBuddy.com operates more than 200 gasoline price-tracking websites, including LosAngelesGasPrices.com, where users continuously report the highest and lowest prices they see.

In California, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline fell 5.6 cents over the last week $3.764 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That was still 33.9 cents a gallon higher than the old record for Nov. 21 of $3.425 a gallon, set in 2007.

Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular dropped 6.6 cents to $3.351 since last week. That was still 26.2 cents a gallon higher than the old record for Nov. 21 of $3.089 a gallon, also set in 2007.

The good news is that prices should continue to drop, said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest Research in Chicago. "Oil prices were not able to stay above $100 a barrel last week, which means retail prices should continue to fall," Flynn said.

Meanwhile, the environmental advocacy group Environment California decided Monday to let people know just how much they could save this holiday weekend if every motorist had a car that met the ambitious fuel economy standard of 54.5 miles per gallon proposed by the Obama administration.

Sean Carroll, a federal field associate for the group, said Californians would save $34 million collectively over the four-day weekend. Nationally, the savings would amount to $260 million, Carroll said.

"The savings work out to about $17 per family, which means they could bring four more pumpkin pies to the holiday dinner," said Carroll, who added, "Americans ought to be able to drive over the river and through the woods to grandma's house without having to stop for gas."

ALSO:

Fuel economy ... smaller is better

Gas prices may hit new highs in 2012

Bumpy road to new fuel economy standard

-- Ronald D. White

Photo: Motorists refuel at a Chevron station in Berkeley. Retail gas prices in the U.S. are at historic highs for the week leading up to the long Thanksgiving weekend. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

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