COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — A fight at the pump. Some Howard County business owners are trying to tighten regulations to keep new gas stations out.

This, as a new study finds Howard has the highest gas prices in the Baltimore area.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the controversy.

That study out of Towson University finds a lack of competition has driven up gas prices in Howard County.

Sticker shock at the pump.

“I’ve definitely seen a difference. I travel up to New York occasionally and the prices in New Jersey are lower,” one man said.

According to a new study, Howard County has the highest gas prices in the Baltimore area.

“Columbia is really bad compared to Ellicott City,” one driver said.

“We drive up to Baltimore County, we go to other counties for it. I tend not to buy gas in Howard County if I can help it,” said driver Michael Hoy.

According to the Regional Economics Studies Institute at Towson, the average gas price for 2012 in Howard County was $3.65 a gallon. Frederick averaged $3.63.

Baltimore City was slightly lower at $3.58, followed by Baltimore County at $3.57.

“It was very surprising just how big the difference was and how statistically significant it was,” said Dr. Darius Irani, Towson University.

He says the reason for the higher prices–Howard County has fewer gas stations.

“We actually have one of the lowest per capita gas stations, I think, only followed by Montgomery County,” Irani said.

Now the Howard County Independent Business Association is pushing for further regulations for new gas stations.

The proposal would prevent any new gas stations from being built within 1,000 feet of an existing gas station. It would also regulate locations near schools and parks.

“It protects against environmental hazards, which we know exist when it comes to gasoline stations,” said Earl Adams Jr., Independent Business Association.

The proposal is now in the hands of the county planning board.

That board will eventually make recommendations to the City Council.

The study found the most expensive gas in the entire state is in Montgomery County.

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