If you've filled your tank lately, you've likely felt a pinch in your pocketbook as gas prices continue to soar. Sold by the barrel, crude oil prices are up nearly $7 from this time last year.
Insiders say the current prices are a reflection of several factors. Tropical storm Isidore and hurricane Lili forced many offshore rigs and refineries to close for several days. The threat of war with Iraq is yet another factor.
What is referred to as a "war premium" has the U.S. holding onto a number of barrels just in case. In addition, EPA regulations are also playing a role. Mandates expected to be met soon are pressuring some refineries to partially or completely shut down. The closures continue to drive up operation costs and prices at the pump.