In Los Angeles County, gas prices have been steadily rising so far this year, even more than in most of the country.
According to City News Service, average gas prices in the country rose to $3.895 a gallon on Monday, the 34th consecutive day of increases, and the 54th rise in 55 days. Overall, the average price rose 54.7 cents in those 55 days, to a level 46.6 cents higher than a year ago. Gas prices, however, were historically low this time in 2020, due to falling demand at the start of the pandemic.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas prices are typically higher in California than in most parts of the country, because of higher gas taxes, and also because “relatively few supply sources offer California's unique blend of gasoline outside of the state.” The average price in California reached as high as $5 back in 2019.
What’s the reason, overall, for the surging prices? Megan Cooper, a spokesperson for AAA, gave some reasons in a recent TV interview, with WJHL in Tennessee.
"A couple months ago, the biggest driving factor that we saw affecting gas prices were those increasing crude oil prices,” Cooper said. “Recently, we’ve seen more of a supply and demand factor take over into really what’s pushing our gas prices higher.”
With the pandemic beginning to recede, and offices and businesses reopening as restrictions are lifted, demand for gas has begun to rise, just as it fell a year ago when lockdown orders went into effect.
Also playing a part in the increase is the recent incident in Texas, when extreme weather knocked out power for residents, and also disrupted supply.
“We also saw here domestically a couple of weeks ago that arctic weather in Texas throughout the Gulf Coast region,” Cooper told the TV station. “Typically, when we receive those weather threats to the Gulf Coast region, they come in the form of hurricanes, so this was a little bit odd. The reaction in the market was very similar to what we would see if a hurricane were to threaten the Gulf Coast.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press this week published a fact check related to viral photos showing that gas over $5 a gallon in Los Angeles and blaming the increase on Biden Administration energy prices. The AP quoted Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, as stating that that particular gas station is known for charging more than the average price for gas. And while prices have indeed risen in Los Angeles, the average has not reached $5.
AAA’s Cooper, in the TV interview, also downplayed the theory that President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline in January had anything to do with the gas price increase, since the pipeline wasn’t yet operational at the time of the decision.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.