Just when we thought Americans were going to get some relief from high prices at the pump, Californians got hit hard with a jump. As of Sept. 30, California is paying an average of $6.29 — much higher than the national average of $3.79.
Gas prices dropped below $4 in most states roughly two weeks prior, but drivers in California and Hawaii were still paying more than $5 a gallon. Now, California’s average has spiked to more than $6 per gallon, with an increase of 70 cents for the week of September 26, 2022. This includes a 16-cent jump between Thursday and Friday.
Why Are Prices Suddenly Rising?
Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, told Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC News that there are four major refineries offline in California. Three are having regular maintenance and one suffered what he called “an upset.” The gasoline is not making it to market.
California only produces roughly 1 million barrels of oil per day, which is not enough to satisfy the state’s fuel needs, so it imports oil from other states. This makes California vulnerable to emergency situations in other states, such as Hurricane Ian currently sweeping the southeast coast.
“It just costs money to redirect those cargos and that’s why everybody has jumped the price in California,” Hirs told ABC News.
Additionally, gas prices aren’t regulated in California, so when the price of fuel goes up for the suppliers and retailers like Shell, Exxon and Chevron, they can raise prices on customers, Hirs explained.
Unlike many other states, California drivers have not enjoyed a gas tax holiday in 2022. The state collects 68.15 cents per gallon, the highest rate in the country, according to Kiplinger.
Drivers with diesel vehicles, however, will enjoy some relief beginning Oct. 1, when the 3.9375% sales tax on diesel fuel will be suspended for one year.
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