Will California’s Sky-High Gas Prices Ever Go Down?

September 15, 2022 Topic: Gas Prices Region: United States Blog Brand: Politics Tags: CaliforniaCalifornia StimulusGas PricesInflationU.S. Economy

Will California’s Sky-High Gas Prices Ever Go Down?

The national average currently sits at $3.70 per gallon, but Californians are paying over $5.40.

Since the national average for gasoline hit a high of just over $5 per gallon in June, nearly all Americans have enjoyed consistently falling prices at the pump.

However, as Politico reported, gas prices remain stubbornly elevated in California, “where state officials are blaming oil companies and reminding voters that relief is on the way in the form of tax rebates scheduled to arrive in weeks.”

According to AAA data, the national average currently sits at $3.70 per gallon but in California, it is still over $5.40.

“Experts say factors to blame for the high cost of gas in California … include problems at refineries that supply the state as well as higher taxes, more regulations and the same global issues driving the overall U.S. market,” the news outlet wrote.

“Still, the cost of gas is something that consumers, and voters, tend to notice and can be problematic for elected officials with elections looming in November,” it continued.

One source of anger among some of the state’s residents stems from the decision not to suspend the state’s gas tax, which now hovers around fifty-four cents per gallon. Earlier this year, Democrats opted instead to send $9.5 billion in rebate checks to families. Those payments, between $200 and $1,050 depending on filing status and income level, are expected to land in bank accounts next month.

“The Legislature had an opportunity to provide real relief to Californians by suspending the gas tax,” Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), who is running for Congress against a Democrat in a Northern California district, told Politico.

“Instead, the Supermajority opted to create a do-nothing Select Committee as an attempt at political cover. Now our residents are paying the price,” he continued.

Meanwhile, there are now increasing concerns that gas prices across the nation will trek higher once again this winter after three straight months of declines.

“Well, it’s a risk. And it’s a risk that we’re working on the price cap to try to address,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview this past weekend on CNN’s State of the Union.

“This winter, the European Union will cease, for the most part, buying Russian oil. And, in addition, they will ban the provision of services that enable Russia to ship oil by tanker. And it is possible that that could cause a spike in oil prices,” she added.

Additionally, fast-rising prices for natural gas could leave millions of Americans shocked when they receive their home heating bills this winter. In a Tuesday interview on CNN, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said that “there's certainly a risk that costs will go up” for consumers.

“Prices already are very high relative to history and relative to the rest of the world. We're already seeing this impact being felt in the European economy,” he continued.

“I recognize that high energy prices are difficult for consumers. That's why we've talked about increasing production, trying to increase supply to markets in a commodity business,” he added.             

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.