Pueblo motorists are starting to fume over higher local gas prices.

We don't blame them.

Without any public explanation from the fuel industry, Pueblo’s average gas price is running about 25 to 30 cents a gallon higher than elsewhere on the Front Range. Previously, Pueblo gas prices usually were about the same or even a little less than Colorado Springs, Denver or Fort Collins-Loveland.

This isn't some nickel-and-dime issue.

It's a quarter-a-gallon issue.

And that higher cost can really add up. For a car or small SUV owner, the added cost is about $3 per weekly fill-up, or $160 over a year. The extra cost is higher for owners of large SUVs and pickups. Last week, The Pueblo Chieftain visited a local gas station to talk with motorists about the situation and the most common reaction from them was "It's frustrating."

The gap became more evident just before Christmas as lower U.S. oil prices began dragging gasoline costs down across the state. Prices in Denver and Colorado Springs fell into the $2.30s while Pueblo's average dropped more slowly to around $2.50. The thought was maybe the local prices would fall closer in line after the next batch of fuel deliveries.

Instead, the gap is stubbornly holding in place even as the slide in prices continues. On Monday, Pueblo's average was down to $2.42 while the average from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins ranged from $2.09 to $2.18, according to travel group AAA Colorado's daily gas price survey.

Dozens of factors can impact a local market’s gas prices: Heavy or weak consumer demand, fuel delivery costs, changing supplier contracts, price wars between stations, among them. AAA says it has not researched Pueblo’s specific situation but it suspects some kind of temporary local market forces are at work.

We have no evidence but we also wonder if last year's industry changes in Colorado and several other states are a factor. Alta purchased gas discounter Western Convenience and British-based EG Group bought Kroger's nationwide convenience store division, including its Pueblo-based Loaf 'N Jug chain.

Convenience store chains and fuel delivery companies have yet to publicly state the reasons for the gap. We urge them to break with the industry's typically closed-mouth approach to gas prices and provide a public explanation. For local motorists, not knowing is almost as frustrating as the higher prices.