SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utahns are paying $0.44 more per gallon than the national average, boasting the dubious title of having the country’s sixth most expensive gas prices as of July 2.

The question is: why?

“We have five refineries here, in the Woods Cross area where I live, and so for that reason I believe gas prices should be below normal all the time in Utah,” said State Sen. Todd Weiler, a Republican representing Woods Cross.

“But sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t,” added Weiler.

It’s frustrating, he says, that “Why Utah?” is a nearly impossible question to answer. We know, based on a spike in demand after the pandemic, that more people want gas now and therefore prices are rising.

Especially as we go into the holiday weekend.

Here in Utah, the pandemic kept people home — and that sagging demand kept prices down. That’s according to Tom Holst with the Kem C. Gardner Institute.

“Automobile traffic on I-15 decreased by 40% based on the fact that many people were working from home. And their driving patterns changed significantly,” Holst told ABC4 on Friday.

But, year over year, he says Utahns are now paying roughly $1 more per gallon of regular gasoline as more people take to the road.

What we don’t know — and what can’t be explained by Utah’s gasoline tax, which ranks 24th in the country — is why Utah’s prices are so high right now. That’s Weiler’s take, anyway.

“What we know is there’s not a huge transportation cost to get fuel to Utah, because it’s refined right here,” said Weiler.

“What we don’t know is kind of the middle man fees and what’s being charged between the refineries and the pump, and that’s what I don’t know and don’t fully understand,” added Weiler.

“I don’t believe that people are price gouging or monopolizing the prices, but it is frustrating.”