Gas prices slowly dropping, but Michigan still feeling the pinch with some of the highest in the US

(WXYZ) - Gas prices in our area are backing off after jumping to almost record levels in the last few weeks.

However, according to the website DetroitGasPrices.com, gas prices are still averaging almost $4.18 for the state and $4.16 for the Detroit area. That's over 50 cents more than the current national average of $3.64.

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According to the website GasBuddy.com, Michigan currently has the third highest gas prices for any state in the country, behind only Hawaii and Illinois. The website also list Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids as all being in the top ten list of cities with the highest gas prices in the country.

The high gas prices have Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette warning retailers about price gouging and price fixing. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats in the state house are calling for an investigation into high gas prices and the prosecution of any producer, wholesaler or retailer suspected of price fixing.

Analysts have said our regions gas price problems can be traced to five refineries: one in Michigan, one in Indiana and three in Illinois.

"I don't want people to start getting paranoid," says Gregg Luskoski a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "But the Great Lakes and Michigan is  where all these problems are connected."

An Exxon refinery in Joilet, Ilinios expected to shut down for a month of maintenance had to buy gasoline on the open market after 42 days of being off-line to meet a contractual obligation after. That sent shock waves through oil traders.

"That created a panic that sent wholesale prices higher and retail prices spiking, but it wasn't just that refinery that's the problem," says Laskoski.

The problem refinery in Michigan is the Marathon facility in southwest Detroit. An April explosion forced the refinery off-line and analysts don't know when it will start pumping at 100 percent again.

Michigan residents have even started driving to Ohio for better gas prices.

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