The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide is $3.838, according to AAA. That is just 6.7% below the all-time high.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The national average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the ninth straight day on Sunday to $3.838. That is now only about 6.7% below the record high of $4.11 from July 2008.
The average price rose by three-tenths of a penny, according to the survey of gas stations conducted for the motorist group AAA. Gas prices are now up more than 17% this year.
The nationwide average was $3.52 a gallon a month ago and $3.76 a gallon on March 9 — the day that prices started rising again after a few days of slight declines.
Gasoline averages more than $4 a gallon in seven states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Washington. Gas prices are also above $4 a gallon in the District of Columbia, according to AAA. At nearly $4.48 a gallon, Hawaii ranks as the nation’s high. Prices are less than a dime away from $4 a gallon in Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin.
Wyoming has the nation’s lowest gas prices, averaging slightly above $3.40 a gallon.
Gas prices have been rising on the back of soaring oil prices, which have shot up more than 5% over the past month amid fears that tensions with Iran will lead to an all-out war that causes a disruption in oil supplies.
Signs of an improving economy have also boosted oil prices, as has the stock market, which hit multi-year highs this week.
The spike in gas prices has led to speculation that the U.S. and Britain may release strategic oil reserves over the next few months in order to boost supplies and lower crude prices. The White House denied a Reuters report about this Thursday.
Pain at the pump has become a hot political issue during the presidential campaign. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, more people disapprove of how President Obama is handling the economy than a month ago. That’s despite improvement in the job market this year.
Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich has pledged to get prices down to $2.50 a gallon.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum has blamed the president for blocking the expansion of domestic energy production. Santorum has also argued that high gas prices were to blame for the 2008 housing meltdown and ensuing economic slump.
And Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said recently that Obama “should be hanging his head” over his energy policies and also accused the president of slowing domestic production. Romney has advocated opening federal lands to drilling and easing regulations on fracking, a controversial policy that involves pumping water into rocks to harvest gas.First Published: March 18, 2012: 8:17 AM ET