Gas prices in Tampa Bay stayed flat this week after a few weeks of inching up somewhat during the summer driving season.
A gallon of regular unleaded in Tampa Bay now averages $3.64 per gallon, compared to exactly that same price a week ago, and $3.44 a month ago. Statewide, a gallon now averages $3.72 per gallon, compared to $3.70 a week ago and $3.50 a month ago.
Overall, oil settled at $95.70 a barrel on the New York -- Mercantile Exchange — $4.17 lower than the week before, helping stop the typical rise in summer gas prices.
Unfortunately, gas prices could rise this week whether Congress and the White House finalize a debt deal or not.
If a deal is sealed the Tuesday Treasury Department deadline, oil prices will likely rise on investor optimism over the economic future.
If a deal falls through, the relative value of the U.S. dollar will likely fall, pushing oil prices higher because oil is traded in dollars worldwide.
"Unfortunately for consumers, we were going to see increased prices at the pump with either scenario," said AAA Auto Club South Spokeswoman Jessica Brady.
"But in the long run an agreement to raise the debt limit is much more beneficial for us all."