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Gas prices too high? They could be much worse

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July 4th gas prices at six-year high

Consumers will pay the highest Fourth of July gasoline prices in six years, but pump prices would be far higher if not for dramatic changes in the U.S. oil industry.

Both the production and refining sides of the industry are contributing to a better supply environment, thanks to the oil shale boom and significant expansion of the U.S. refining industry in the last several years.

Prices are expected to go lower this summer, and by Labor Day could be 7 cents to 12 cents cheaper per gallon than the current national average of $3.67 per gallon.

"Without hurricanes, I would say Labor Day, I would be looking at something in the $3.55 to $3.60 neighborhood. I think the real decline always occurs in the last 100 days of the year," said Tom Kloza, oil analyst with GasBuddy.com.