In February, gasoline prices in California increased to an average about $3 per gallon – a drastic change from January, when prices were about a dollar less. Though they’ve decreased slightly in March, they still remain high.
The drastic decrease of gasoline prices in the winter of 2014 was partially due to increasing popular, though controversial, use of hydraulic fracturing. In addition, a lack of major natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, where much domestic oil is collected, allowed oil to be collected efficiently without the interruptions of previous years. Both of these factors were accentuated by the annual production of winter blend gasolines, which are cheaper than the summer blend gasolines.
Gasoline prices are still low compared to the average price in 2014, which peaked at around $4 per gallon. Yet some citizens, who were relieved by a statement from the Department of Energy that predicted gasoline prices to be around $2.60 for 2015, are becoming worried.
Jason Chang, a mailman who drives almost everyday, expressed his thoughts about the increasing gas prices to JSR, stating, “I don’t really like how the gas prices are going up. I feel like the government is raising the gas prices in order to get more money from us.”
Chang may be referring to a new statewide gasoline tax that has gone into effect under Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Supporters of that act, however, say that its aim is not to raise money for the government but to reduce pollution by encouraging drivers to consume less gas.
A more immediate reason for the increase of gasoline prices is the shutdown of several refineries such as the Torrance refinery and the Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery due to refinery explosions. The shutdown of these refineries, which usually support about 17.5% of the gasoline distributed throughout California, reduced the supply significantly and caused increases even outside of the Golden State.
However, fuel experts are assuring the citizens that the increase of gasoline price won’t be for long. Nancy White, an AAA public relations director, reported in Tampa Bay Times and said, “February typically marks the start of seasonal refinery maintenance… While we’ve seen some increases in the last eight to 10 days, we don’t anticipate that there will be major hikes in prices in the next few weeks.”
When Chang was asked how he thinks gas prices will change for the next month, he said, “You never know. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it goes down.”
Currently, gasoline prices in California are greater than prices in any other US state.