Consumers are wincing at the gas pump these days prices have now increased 32 days in a row, leaping 43 cents a gallon since mid-January, 15 cents a gallon just the past week. Prices always rise this time of year, but this year, they’re rising faster and earlier. “And it’s starting early for a couple of reasons. Number one we have the unrest in the middle east, whether it’s Egypt of whether it’s Iran. Number two we are still feeling some after effects of hurricane sandy. The east coast hasn’t caught up with inventories and that’s been a problem,” says Jeff Lenard, Nat’l Assn. Of Convenience Stores. Prices are usually lower in January but in February, many refineries shut down for maintenance and to retool to make government-required summer blends of fuel, with different areas of the country requiring a dozen different blends. “And that puts pressure on prices and the switch over itself – you usually see an increase somewhere between 20 cents to as much as $1.10 per gallon,” says Lenard. California has one of the most stringent blends along with some of the highest gas taxes in the country. So its fuel is often the most expensive. While the national average is 3.73 a gallon for regular– in California, it is already 4.99. Of course, the price of oil itself affects the price at the pump. And that price has been rising in part because especially concerns about Iran, which overlooks the straits of Hormuz through which oil tankers flow. The possible interruption of supply is why many analysts say North America and president Obama should be doing everything we can to become energy independent, including building the keystone xl pipeline from Canada. “That is the harbinger of whether he believes in an all of the above strategy or if that was his campaign rhetoric.” says, Charles Drevna, Amer Fuel & Petrochem Manufacturers. But activists are determined to block the keystone XL pipeline and held a demonstration in Washington this weekend to demand the Obama administration prevent its construction: Canada, on the other hand, argues the us should want oil from a reliable ally. The administration has said it would likely make a decision by the end of march. Either way, it will unleash a torrent of criticism. In Washington, I’m Jim Angle, Fox news.