Nightly News   |  June 09, 2013

Pain at the pump in the Midwest

As the summer driving season gets underway, gas prices soar in the Midwest while staying stable in other parts of the country. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the price of gasoline , always a concern at the start of the summer driving season. but now focus has shifted to the midwest where prices at pump are soaring. nbc's john yang explains why.

>>> ridiculous!

>> reporter: forget sticker shock.

>> 4:6

>> $4.60 -- that's a lot.

>> reporter: in the heartland, the start of the summer vacation season is seeing a price surge in some places close to record levels.

>> that's $4. that makes you feel like you're being strangled.

>> reporter: according to aaa, the national average for a gallon of regular is $3.63. but in four midwestern states , the average is more than $4. in michigan -- $4.23, up 17 cents in just the last week in the highest in the continental united states . some motorists are trying to cut back.

>> instead of driving the kids to school, i walk them.

>> reporter: analysts blame tight supplies brought on by problems at refineries in the region, including an april explosion an fire at this plant in detroit. others are closed for scheduled maintenance that's taking longer than expected.

>> declining number of refineries have meant once a fa vilt has gone offline, it is a big deal .

>> reporter: it could take several weeks for some refineries in the midwest to get running and prices to fall. some prices have dropped in areas of the southeast.

>> this summer should not be as bad as last year. but for now many midwest motorists are frustrate and fuming at the pump.

>> there goes all my vacation money.

>> reporter: the shrinking of refineries in the united states makes this kind of regional price volatility more common. onyang, nbc news, chicago.