Gas prices in California 'are retesting their 2022 highs,' pushing up national average
Gas prices in California are heading painfully higher once again, sending the national average up for the second straight week to over $3.80 per gallon.
The average price for a gallon of gas in California was $6.41 on Tuesday, according to AAA, roughly $0.03 short of the record set in June. In Los Angeles County, the average price for a gallon of gas was $6.46 compared to the national average of $3.81.
“That's very much a disproportionate increase," GasBuddy Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick De Haan told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). "The epicenter of the biggest increase is really the West Coast. California prices now are retesting their 2022 highs."
Other states on the West Coast— Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Nevada — all recorded big jumps in the past week as well.
“In some instances, stations are up $1 a gallon just in the last few weeks, not only in the West Coast, but areas of the Great Lakes, as well, where prices are up $0.50 a gallon in the last few weeks,” De Haan said adding that it's "certainly unusual to see such a wide disparity in price behaviors across the country."
Supply may be restricted nationally as Hurricane Ian battered the southeast region of the U.S. and threatens to limit gas distribution “due to a lack of electricity and flooded roads and highways,” according to AAA.
On a state level, a big part of California's rapid increase in gas prices is largely due to the “incredible number of refinery disruptions," De Haan said. And while it's normal for refineries to do maintenance this time of the year, he added, combining that with the unplanned shutdowns has caused a "massive crimp on gasoline supply."
California's Gov. Gavin Newsom put the blame at the feet of oil companies for the current predicament. In a video on Twitter, he said last week that oil companies continue to hike up prices and “provide no explanation” as to why.
Newsom asked state lawmakers to introduce a windfall tax that would cap oil companies’ profits, tax at a higher rate any earnings above that ceiling, and return the money to taxpayers via rebates. He also directed the state’s air regulators to allow refineries to begin producing winter-blend gasoline immediately instead of waiting after Oct. 31 as required by law.
California's strict energy policies could also be part of the issue, according to De Haan, who said that refineries across the U.S. are unable to ship gasoline to California in a way that meets its energy standards.
"The problem with California right now is the fragmentation," he said. "It's all alone when it comes to having these stringent requirements. So when things go well, there's not an issue. But when things don't go well, such is the situation now, they are all on their own."
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv
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