$4 Mark for Gas Could Be Reality in Nine States & D.C. This Week

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Gas prices have soared in 2012. The national average is currently $3.80—up 50¢ since the beginning of the year, and a rise of 30¢ over the last month. There are now four states where the average gallon of regular has passed the $4 mark, and five other states and Washington, D.C., are expected to be averaging $4 per gallon very soon, possibly this week.

A brutal, 27-day period in which gas prices inched up daily ended last week. After the momentary reprieve, gas prices have again started climbing. AAA reports that the national average for gasoline rose 3.4¢ over the weekend, and now measures $3.801, up from $3.767 one week ago and $3.506 a month ago.

The average gallon sold for $3.53 in 2011, which was the most expensive year overall for gas. Considering how quickly prices have risen this year, 2012 looks to blow away 2011 to snag the dubious title of Priciest Year Ever for Gas.

(LIST: 5 Ways to Score Cheaper Gas)

As soon as the year began, analysts began speculating about when (not if) the national average would top $4 in 2012. Originally, the over-under seemed to be about Memorial Day. Considering that many states now anticipate hitting $5 per gallon by then, the under appears to have been the smarter bet.

By the third week in February, three states had already hit the $4 mark: Hawaii, California, and Alaska. A fourth state has just joined the $4-per-gallon club (Illinois), and these six other spots are all currently within 3¢ of the mark (averaging $3.97 or higher): Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Indiana’s not far behind, averaging $3.944 per gallon.

(MORE: Poll: Most Americans Won’t Change Lifestyle Until Gas Tops $5 Per Gallon)

Survey data published last week shows that the whopping majority of Americans (85%) think that the government should take immediate actions to bring down gas prices, though it’s unclear what steps could and should be taken. In early March, President Obama said in a speech that there was “no silver bullet” to rein in gas prices. That’s hardly what Americans want to hear. A new Washington Post poll indicates that skyrocketing gas prices are hammering President Obama’s approval ratings. While 50% of those polled disapprove of Obama’s work on the job overall, 65% disapprove of his handling of gas prices.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.