Harvey drives gas price surge for holiday weekend travelers

Travelers hitting the road in Missouri for Labor Day weekend will have to pay more at the pump due to a spike in retail gas prices caused by Hurricane Harvey. As of Friday, gas prices in the state had increased about 12 percent in four days.

However, one Missouri economist said the higher prices may not cause obvious changes on people’s holiday travel plans.

“I do not expect the moderate increase in the gas price to have a significant impact on gas consumption,” said Shawn Ni, a professor of economics and chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri. “The short-term response to gas price is nonlinear. Typically, people do not cut down their driving by much unless the gas price is really high.”

Kaitlyn Lee, who works at Thai Express in downtown Columbia, said she was planning a trip to Kansas City for Labor Day. She said gas prices wouldn’t change her plans.

Other prospective holiday travelers in Columbia had different feelings about the more expensive fuel.

“Yes, it definitely will have an impact on my trip,” said Patricia Johnson, who was fueling up at a gas station on Providence road in Columbia. “I am going to take a five-hour drive this (weekend). I have to spend more money.”

The reason for the price increase is not a lack of crude oil. Rather, it’s been driven by the closure of oil refineries in the Gulf Coast after Harvey battered the area with rain.

According to a Reuters report, nearly one fifth of U.S. oil-refining capacity was paralyzed by Harvey. The Explorer Pipeline, which runs through Missouri from Texas to Illinois, announced on Wednesday that it had shut down its main fuel line.

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