$4 Gas? What a Bargain! (And, No, We're Not Kidding)

The cost of gas in Washington DC
The cost of gas in Washington DC

According to a recent Gallup poll, most Americans say that if the price of gasoline gets up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 to $6 a gallon, they're going to have to make "major" changes in lifestyle. Driving less, certainly. Buying an electric car, maybe. Shopping less -- definitely.

Well, get ready to make a change, America. In some states -- Hawaii, California, Alaska, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. -- prices have already touched the $4 mark. In many other communities, with gas prices hitting an average of $3.81 a gallon nationally, it looks like change is at hand.

How much worse could it get? Quite a bit, actually.

Crude Awakening

In Europe, market researcher Drive Alive! reports that standard "95 petrol" averages 5.78 euros per gallon. That sounds bad, but a single euro is worth about $1.31 these days, so the price in dollars is even worse: $7.56.

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Prices range from a low of $6.24 in Hungary (what a bargain!) to as high as $9.36 in Norway.

Even when you consider that 95 octane would be considered a "premium" gas here in the U.S., that's pretty pricey. Turns out, the only place in the entire world where gas costs more than Norway is Asmara, Eritrea. (Since you asked, gas goes for $9.58 a gallon there.)

America's Priciest Pumps

Things haven't gotten that bad for us in the U.S. (yet). But some states and cities are working hard to catch up to Europe (and Eritrea). According to ABC News, Californian cities occupy 17 of the top 18 slots on a list of America's most expensive places to purchase gas. Chalk this up to the state's stringent antipollution laws and the curious fuel blends the state requires refineries to produce for them to cut down on smog.

Here's a run-down of the major culprits (and one outlier), based on a gas price survey conducted late last month:
* Santa Barbara -- $4.35
* San Francisco -- $4.35
* Los Angeles -- $4.33
* San Diego -- $4.32
* Ventura -- $4.31
* Orange County -- $4.31
* Riverside -- $4.29
* San Jose -- $4.28
* San Bernardino -- $4.28
* Oakland -- $4.28
* Bakersfield -- $4.28
* Salinas -- $4.26
* Fresno -- $4.20
* Stockton -- $4.20
* Sacramento -- $4.20
* Honolulu HI -- $4.20
* Modesto -- $4.19
* Chico -- $4.18

They say that misery loves company. So... feel better now?