Gas taxes help push California pump prices past $4, high above $2.64 national average

By Jackson Elliot | The Daily Signal

A dollar won’t take you very far in California these days.

Today, the state has an average gas price of $4.18 per gallon, more than $1.50 higher than the $2.64 per gallon average from every other state, according to the American Automobile Association.

California has the highest gas taxes in the nation at an average of 57.8 cents a gallon — more than one-eighth of the total price of the gas, the AAA says. The tax was raised most recently by 5.6 cents per gallon July 1. California imposed a 12 cents-a-gallon tax increase in November 2017.

Wikimedia Commons/Alexander Migl

The high cost of gas doesn’t only burden motorists, it also drives away refineries. Because many companies won’t invest in the expensive infrastructure required to produce the California gas mix, they leave the state.

The last time gasoline cost more than $4 a gallon nationwide was in 2008, during the Great Recession, according to AAA’s statistics. The California price increase comes even as prices fall across the rest of the country in anticipation of lower fuel use in fall and winter.

Every fall, refineries switch to gasoline formulas better suited to winter and retrofit their infrastructure, AAA spokesman Devin Gladden said. In the past few weeks, seven of California’s 25 refineries experienced outages in production at the same time.

“The challenge is that there’s a special formula of blended gasoline needed in particular places in California, and when there’s a supply problem, it can be difficult to import the special formula into those places,” Gladden said. “That can cause prices to spike.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, California gasoline costs extra primarily because of state government regulations. The state demands that companies create a fuel mix that reduces pollution, and that formula costs more money and effort to make than normal gasoline.

The high cost doesn’t only burden motorists, it also drives away refineries. Because many companies won’t invest in the expensive infrastructure required to produce the California gas mix, they leave the state.

According to The Fresno Bee, 55 refineries produced fuel in California in 1983. Today, only half that many, 27, remain. As a result, the fewer firms that remain can charge higher prices.

California also lacks interstate pipelines, according to the Los Angeles Times. During shortages, only trucks and ships can deliver gasoline. Both of those methods cost more than using pipelines.

All of that means that, for more than 24 million California licensed motorists, travel will be much more costly. If they buy as much gasoline as the average American, they will spend $15 more on gas every month than those living in other states.

Gas prices won’t remain above $4 per gallon for long, however, the AAA’s Gladden said. The refineries soon will be producing at ordinary capacity.

The problems with the plants “have mainly ended last week,” he said. “Prices should stabilize toward the end of this week.”

Even so, California still will have the highest gas prices in the country.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Wikimedia Commons/Alexander Migl

One thought on “Gas taxes help push California pump prices past $4, high above $2.64 national average

  1. POWER OUTAGES AND HIGH GASOLINE PRICES

    Millions of Californians may have just suffered an unprecedented, induced blackout by the state’s largest (and bankrupt) utility, PG&E, just so it isn’t blamed for starting even more fires causing it to go even more bankrupt..

    The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Los Angeles County was $4.25 on Wednesday, 4.5 cents higher than one week ago, 57.6 cents more than one month ago and 37.1 cents greater than one year ago. It has also risen 86.4 cents since the start of the year. What is more troubling is that as California gas prices reached the highest level in the state since 2015, some Los Angeles area gas stations are charging more than $5 a gallon.

    The gas price spike started last month after Saudi Arabia oil production facilities were attacked, and accelerated after three Los Angeles-area refineries slowed or halted production due to maintenance issues and no imported gasoline was available to make up for the shortfall, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.

    SOLAR IS THE ANSWER?

    America’s most “environmentally conscious, sustainable, resilient” state got a harsh lesson in electrical engineering when many of the tens of thousands of people hit by this week’s blackout learned the hard way that solar installations don’t keep the lights on during a power outage.

    Most panels are designed to supply power to the grid, not directly to the houses. During midday, solar systems generate more juice than a home can handle. However, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority are not feeding into the gird as PG&E cut power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.”

    Of course, the only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries, however as Tesla has found out the hard way, that market is just starting to take off and even so it’s having a very difficult time making headway.

    The largest U.S. rooftop solar company, Sunrun, said hundreds of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries. Alas, the total number of those affected – and without power – is in the hundreds of thousands. HOW WOULD THAT WORK FOR CHARGING EVS AND RUNNING HEAT PUMPS?

    For those wondering if their AC appliances can work of the DC power from a Tesla Powerwall battery, the answer is no, unless DC TO AC converters are provided.

    BTW, without electricity, a Tesla electric vehicles do not run.

    Californians who still have their “uncool” internal combustion engines are in luck? Sure, but soon they may have to pay nearly $6 per gallon to fill up.

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