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Dicker: A Break on Gas Prices for July 4

Tickers in this article: PSX

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the Fourth of July approaches, many of us will take to the road. What kind of gas prices should we expect?

I sat down with Brittany Umar to talk about gas prices throughout the country, where drivers haven't seen the usual seasonal spike in prices we normally get heading into Independence Day weekend. Instead, they've been treated to lower prices coming into July, with a national 17-cent drop in the last two weeks.

Although prices are up a bit from last year, that drop in price going into the summer months has been welcome relief for drivers, and the national average of $3.50 a gallon shouldn't spoil anyone's outing.

Unless, of course, you live on the West Coast, where high temperatures have caused a rash of refinery outages, including one at the 165,000-barrel-a-day Shell refinery in Martinez, Calif. and a short outage at the Phillips 66 Arroyo Grande refinery, which feeds San Francisco. Because of these unplanned minor shutdowns, gas prices have spiked on the West Coast and are now hovering close to $4.00 a gallon.

The West coast has emission standards that are more stringent than the rest of the country requiring dedicated refiners to manufacture their gas, so the good news is that the high prices drivers are experiencing there are unlikely to spread to the rest of the nation.

I talk more about gas prices for the Fourth of July weekend with Brittany in the video above.

At the time of publication, Dicker had no positions in securities mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.