California gas prices soar but experts say not to panic

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The national average price of gasoline has now passed $3 per gallon, an average that hasn’t been seen since 2014.

There are many factors that play into soaring gas prices.

While the U.S is trying to ease pandemic restrictions and the recent cyber attack on the colonial pipeline may be factors to the rising gas prices, California has other reasons.

“I remember gas prices being high before I drove,” said AAA expert Sergio Avila.

As thousands of Californians hit the road once more for work and play, Avila says the push to return to normal during COVID-19 is coming at a price.

“We’ve seen an incredible increase in demand for gasoline in the last several weeks and that’s what has really lead to this last spike in prices,” Avila said.

According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular is just over $3, but California is surpassing the national average at $4.11 at the pump, making it the most expensive state in the U.S for gas.

Something Avila says is not surprising.

“If I compare that number to what was happening in May of 2019, just two years ago, the average cost of gasoline then in California was $4.05,” Avila said.

And there’s a reason why Californian’s will continue to pay the most at the pump.

“There’s not only state taxes that play into that but there’s also a lot of environmental regulations placed on the production of gasoline, which makes it a little more expensive to produce than in other parts of the country. And that all leads to California being the most expensive places to get gas,” Avila said.

As panic buying sweeps the East Coast following a ransomware attack that shut down a major pipeline, Avila is urging people on the West Coast to remain calm.

“The colonial pipeline provides about 45% of the gasoline to the East Coast and it’s not expected to have any impact on the West. Supply of gasoline in California is healthy,” Avila said.

Supporting that, the California Energy Commission says gasoline used by California’s motorists and businesses is supplied by local refineries and will not be entirely affected by the ransomware attack.

Although, the CEC says the spike in gas prices is due to higher crude oil prices.

“California’s average retail price for gasoline is up 17.5 cents per gallon (cpg) over the last month, while the U.S. average retail price is up 12.1 cpg. Over that same period, crude oil prices have increased roughly $5.50 per barrel or about 13 cpg,” said the CEC.

The commission says further price impacts should be minimal and are not expected to affect summer travel in California.

AAA, however, predicts these prices will only get higher as Memorial Day Weekend approaches. One person who moved from LA spoke to FOX40 off-camera and said the gas prices there are more than $5.00.

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