The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in California hit $4.668 Oct. 8, the highest price in the nation and an all-time high for the Golden State. People have no choice but to fill up because they have to drive.
Following the third day of record-setting prices at the pump, Jerry Brown called for the immediate release of the cheaper, but less environmentally friendly, winter-blend of gasoline. It is cheaper and more readily available, but it also emits polluting vapors and evaporates in heat quicker than summer-blends.
California’s retailers are supposed to keep selling pricier summer-blend gasoline until Oct. 31. This wouldn’t affect California if the disruption is brief and the policy wouldn’t have a big effect on air pollution.
It is possible some state gasoline refiners are taking advantage of the shortfall by withholding some of their supply in order to jolt prices even higher, so much so that the spike has prompted calls for a federal investigation.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), asked the Department of Justice’s oil and gas price fraud working group to look into whether maintenance issues at refineries were being used as an excuse to drive up energy prices.
There are two factors that push the price of California much higher than the rest of the country. A different blend is required to meet California air quality standards and there is little pipeline capacity to bring in refined product from elsewhere.