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Blame Exxon for Gasoline Prices? Analysts Disagree

Gasoline prices have been on the rise -- and Exxon Mobil shares are near a 52-week high. Does this mean the world's biggest oil company is responsible for high pump prices?

Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, and Jerry Taylor, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, attempted to sway "Morning Call" viewers to their opposing viewpoints.

Weiss claimed that Exxon "definitely played a role" in driving up gasoline prices. He said that despite reaping "record-breaking profits in the history of the world," the company hasn't reinvested in expanding refinery capacity -- the missing link between petroleum and gasoline, often cited for tight gasoline supply.

CNBC's Carl Quintanilla posed a question: Is refinery inefficiency a natural market consequence, rather than intentional "collusion"? Weiss' answer: "There is some evidence that consolidation" in the industry has led to less refining capacity.

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But Taylor retorted that "If Exxon Mobil is guilty of what Daniel [Weiss] charges, he should put them on" the Center's board -- because, he argued, high prices induce conservation; so driving up gasoline prices would merely help environmental causes.

Taylor stated that 85% of variance in gasoline prices is established by global crude prices -- so look to strife in Nigeria and soaring demand from China and India, not Exxon, as root causes of dizzying bills at the pump.