By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
Motorists, brace yourselves for a lump of coal this holiday season: higher-priced gasoline.
Nationwide, a gallon of regular unleaded gas averaged $2.977 on Friday and more than $3 a gallon in 20 states. That's up nearly 10 cents the past week and 34 cents higher than December 2009, AAA spokesman Troy Green says.
Benchmark crude oil opens today at $88.37 a barrel. If crude crosses $90 for the first time since 2008 and continues to rise, as many industry experts forecast, the average price of regular unleaded could hit $3.15 or higher by year's end.
Gasoline is already at or near that in California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Rhode Island and Washington.
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