With the price of gas climbing at its fastest rate since 2005, the question among many consumers is what exactly causes the spike in prices at the pump. It’s important to distinguish how costs are affected by nationwide factors compared to foreign influences.  The Maritime Executive reports that a common myth among consumers is that domestic transportation costs contribute to higher prices. Instead, the poor economy, high unemployment rate, problems at oil refineries, weather and even natural disasters are to blame. Federal, state and local taxes also make up a bulk of the price jump. State gas taxes account for the differences among prices across the U.S. The highest gas prices can be found in Hawaii, California, New York and Connecticut. Take a look at the complete list for the top 7 states.  Crude oil prices are currently historically high, and these make up nearly 70% of the price of gas. Recently, InvestorPlace Media reported gas prices may start  to weigh less on consumers’ wallets. However, USA Today reports that 2013 could be the year where gas prices hit their highest. The climb in prices thus far has happened more quickly and earlier compared to years past. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides a breakdown of costs for regular gasoline and diesel fuel.  There are a number of reasons why crude oil prices go up overseas. “... The value of the dollar, geopolitical issues, global supply/demand, inflation, and weather, just to name a few,” are all responsible for price increases in the global marketplace, according to a statement by The Maritime Executive board of directors.  January shipments of ‘crude oil’  in the ImportGenius.com database have declined the past several years, going from 368 to 293 to 221 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Imports of crude oil have also steadily declined over the last 3 years in our shipping database. Over 5,500 shipments were received in 2010. However, that number declined as we saw fewer than 5,000 imports last year. Reports released earlier this month also stated that the numbers for oil imports across the U.S. are down. Oil imports are at their lowest levels since 2009 according to the Christian Science Monitor.  The EIA states that crude oil inventories see sharp declines around the end of the year, and Import Genius data seems to back up this claim. December is when taxes are assessed on stocks. The Import Genius pulse tool shows about 250 less shipments in December 2012 than in November. FOX News reports that inventories went down by 12.5 million barrels. Oil traders attribute the price increase to the drop in inventories. The notion that oil companies can pay less in taxes if their inventory is down gives them a huge incentive to slow their imports or transport the oil to less taxable areas.  Many speculate that as gas prices continue to worsen, drivers will look to public transportation in an effort to reduce their costs. A study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that the number of miles travelled by personal vehicles has continually declined for 90 months -- that is, more than 7 years. The rising gas prices may significantly add to this trend as we continue to see Americans driving less miles at a faster rate.