DALLAS - Hurricane Harvey may have spared North Texas but it will still hit everyone who drives.
Why? It's because of the precautionary shut down of refineries along the Texas coast last weekend. When refineries stop producing gas, it affects supply.
Gas prices were headed up even before the refineries shut down, according to Bernard Weinstein, an economics professor at Southern Methodist University.
"And that's because traders, when they heard the hurricane was going to hit the coast, created tremendous demand for what is essentially paper," Weinstein said. "The price of gas is essentially set on Wall Street."
And it hasn't taken long for Wall Street to affect the streets in Dallas. Tuesday at the Exxon at Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue, the price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.44.
According to the website, Gas Buddy, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Dallas Tuesday was $2.31. Monday the average was $2.27. One week ago it was $2.14. Add to the equation the fact that we're entering a holiday weekend and you can expect prices to go even higher.
How long could the price spike last? That depends. Texas-based pipeline engineer Don Deaver worries about the damage inflicted by 100 mph winds on older refineries.
"If it's an old facility that concept designed for wind loads like that could cause big problems," Deaver said. "A lot of these refineries were built 50, 60, 70, 80 years ago, are not always up to date on design."
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports weather related damage to some refinery tanks in the path of the storm and the release of "benzene, toluene and other petroleum pollutants into the environment".
And while gas prices are expected to return to normal in a few weeks, Harvey's environmental impact could inflict a price for years to come.
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