Gas prices hit record high in 2012

Annual gas prices hit a record high in 2012, the AAA motor club said Monday.

On average, the national gas price for the year was $3.60 per gallon, eclipsing last year’s record of $3.51 per gallon. AAA attributed the increase to weather events and global turmoil.

“Record high gas prices have made this the most expensive year yet for motorists. Factors as volatile as major hurricanes, refinery outages and tension in the Middle East resulted in significant frustration for people filling up their cars,” Avery Ash, a spokesman with AAA, said in a Monday statement.

The price of gasoline was a prominent issue during the 2012 campaign season. Republicans claimed President Obama contributed to the trend by keeping too much federal land off-limits to oil development. Energy analysts largely dismissed that argument, saying oil is tethered to global market prices.

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The climb in gas prices should come to an end in 2013, according to AAA. The motor club expects prices to fall due to increased domestic oil production and low demand.

A trip over the "fiscal cliff" would depress gas prices even further, AAA noted, because the resulting recession would cut demand for fuel. 

“What happens with gas prices this year will be impacted by decisions in Washington this month. Yet no matter what happens in Congress, AAA is optimistic that gas prices will be less expensive than in 2013,” Ash said.

The all-time daily record for gas prices remains $4.11 per gallon, which was set on July 17, 2008.

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