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If you've been holding off on a road trip vacation because of the high cost of gasoline, this may be a good time to load up the minivan and head out on the highway. The average price of gas posted the largest July decline in six years, according to the latest survey by AAA, as refiners are pumping out record volumes of supplies. The drop is even more surprising given the recent flare-up of global conflicts from Libya to Israel, producing the kinds of headlines that typically drive crude oil prices higher. But with the U.S. now producing more crude than it imports, oil prices have remained relatively tame. Consumers this week have paid the lowest gas prices since the middle of March. The national average price for a gallon of regular gas was $3.52, according to AAA. As always, those averages mask wide differences in what you'll pay depending on where you live. Prices vary state by state because of a variety of factors — transportation costs, state gas taxes and differences in regional supplies of cleaner-burning summer blends.


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-John W. Schoen,