Gas Prices Soar in California, Despite National Decline

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA - MAY 18: A customer pumps gas into their car at a gas station on May 18, 2022 in Petaluma, California. Gas prices in California have surpassed $6.00 per gallon for the first time ever. The average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in California is at …
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California drivers are paying about $2 per gallon of gasoline more than the national average price, with prices in the state soaring even as the national average has steadily declined from its record-high level in the spring.

Currently, according to the American Automobile Association, the national average price for regular gas is $3.71 per gallon. In California, it is a staggering $5.76 per gallon.

Generally, California drivers pay more because of state taxes and regulations. But that alone would not explain the fact that California prices have actually been rising in recent weeks, after falling along with those in the rest of the country.

Drivers in Southern California are mystified, according to local ABC affiliate KABC-7 in Los Angeles:

The average price [in Los Angeles County] has increased 44.3 cents over the past 22 days, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is 26.1 cents more than one week ago, 37.1 cents higher than one month ago, and $1.286 greater than one year ago.

The current streak of increases follows a run of 78 decreases in 80 days totaling $1.216. The average price is 77.3 cents less than the record high of $6.462 set June 14.

The national average price is $1.316 less than the record $5.016 set June 14.

The San Jose Mercury News recently attempted to explain:

[T]he widening gap between what everyone from San Jose to Los Angeles is paying compared to the rest of the country is due to the concentrated nature of California’s oil refineries, experts say. Due to the state’s special gas blend, California is often termed a “fuel island” because nearly all gas sold in the state is refined locally by a handful of companies, including Chevron, Marathon Petroleum and PBF Energy. That means mechanical hiccups at refineries can cause major price spikes not seen elsewhere in the country.

Tom Kloza, of the Oil Price Information Service, said the reduced flow of gas is likely due to refiners bringing equipment offline for maintenance. He said much of the oil industry deferred regularly scheduled maintenance in spring so they could continue reaping record profits during the energy price spike following the Russian invasion.

In a statement, the California Energy Commission said state refineries are seeing “temporary” production issues that, coupled with maintenance activity and “lower-than-normal gasoline inventories,” is driving the current price spike over the past four weeks.

The nationwide decline in gas prices reflects a global drop in the price of oil, on fears of recession. President Joe Biden, who blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the price spike, is now claiming credit for the decline, though the war is ongoing.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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