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Here’s Why California Gas Prices Are Highest in the Country

AAA reports gas prices increased 40% since start of year and still going up up up

By Katy Grimes, July 8, 2021 8:19 am

The national gas price average increased 40% since the start of the year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). “Starting the year at $2.25 on January 1, average gas prices per gallon increased to $3.13 today.”

Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.

And the prices are still going up. AAA says motorists can expect gas prices to increase another 10–20 cents through the end of August, bringing the national average well over $3.25 this summer.

The national average is $3.131 per gallon as of Thursday; California’s average is $4.31 for regular grade gas – even higher than Hawaii’s gas price average at $4.04, and Hawaii has to import most everything, including gas.

California’s medium unleaded gas sells for $4.50 per gallon on average. Gas in Mono County is $5.13 per gallon.

At about a 47% difference from California, Texas has really low gas prices at $2.81 per gallon. Louisiana gas sells for $2.78. New Hampshire gas sells for $2.98. Our neighbor Oregon’s gas sells for $3.67 per gallon, and Nevada gas sells for $3.78 per gallon.

California drivers all across the state are asking “Why are gas prices so high?”

AAA gas prices map. (Photo: screen shot, AAA)

David Blackmon, a Senior Contributor to Forbes reported, asking why California’s gas prices are so high is  just as important as asking why gas prices are rising, “since California is basically serving as the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country,” he said.

“Finally, a third web search question high on the list this week is ‘Is America energy independent?’”

Blackmon offers one of the best, concise, explanations gas prices are so high and still climbing noting there are several factors at play here that all have had an impact since last November:

AAA gas prices map. (Photo: screen shot, AAA)
  1. The loosening of COVID restrictions globally in recent months has led to a rapid recovery in global demand for crude oil that has exceeded the expectations of all of the “experts” on the subject, leading to a tightening of global crude markets;
  2. Strong discipline among the OPEC+ nations related to their agreement to limit exports has also played a major role in tightening the relationship between global supply and demand;
  3. The U.S. election has also obviously played a big role here. Since last November 3, the average price per gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. has skyrocketed by 75 cents. The markets clearly see the Biden/Harris administration as one that will work to inhibit U.S. oil production, which will also have the effect of tightening the global market, and traders have responded by driving up the price of crude oil;
  4. Refinery maintenance and the changeover to summer gasoline blends. This is a factor that I tend to write about every year at this time. Gas prices have continued to rise even as crude prices have dropped over the past week mainly due to the fact that March and April are the time of year in which many U.S. refineries are taken offline for annual maintenance and all refiners are switching from manufacturing a handful of winter blends of gasoline to the dozens of summer blends required by the EPA. This changeover invariably raises the costs of both refining and transportation of gasoline, and that is always worked into gas prices during these months.

Gas Buddy explains the summer blends: “March-April refineries begin to produce summer gasoline blends. More than 14 different blends are produced during this period, due to different state regulations for reformulated gasoline and Reid vapor pressure requirements. May 1: Fuel terminals are required to sell only summer gasoline on May 1, while gas stations have until June 1 to complete the changeover to summer gasoline. The switch from winter to summer gasoline is one of the major factors behind seasonal fuel price increases in May.”

Gas Buddy summer blend map. (Photo: GasBuddy.com)

As for California, Blackmon is also spot on why we pay the highest-in-the-nation gas prices:

California is a state that is rich in underground oil resources, but over the past two decades, the state government of California has pursued a policy agenda designed to inhibit drilling and production within its borders as part of an overall program to try to ratchet down emissions via command-and-control regulations. In more recent years, the state government has implemented emissions regulations that far exceed current federal regulation and implemented mandates requiring a rapid phasing-out of gas-powered cars and replacing them with electric vehicles (EVs).

Boom. This is why elections matter.

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34 thoughts on “Here’s Why California Gas Prices Are Highest in the Country

  1. The core problem: too many legislators and bureaucrats with zero real-world work experience (having been a legislative staffer or activist/”community organizer” is not a real job) combined with minimal recognition of the importance of petroleum products to society plus a reliance on California’s grand tradition of basing laws on emotion instead of logic.

    1. Remember to vote on Sept. 14th to remove this failed Governor!!! The Dems continue to run California in to the ground. Our once Golden State is in such disrepair that I don’t know if we can recover.

  2. I looked in this article for a mention of California’s gasoline taxes. How much of the increased cost of gas have we, California voters, inflicted on ourselves?

      1. Gavin’s billion-dollar purchase of masks from chum China? EDD benefits for criminals? Pay-offs to ballot-harvesters, Hire-A-Rioter, others? Who knows? I sure don’t. Does anyone?

    1. I don’t recall that vote going through, but this tax was imposed upon us just the same by Newsom and his consorts under the guise of “Fixing the roads”, funny how that never happened and I voted NO, so you inflicted it upon us if you voted YES. The vote didn’t matter as the tally showed more people voted NO, but it was imposed upon us anyways. What is really funny is my son works for MacCarin Airport in Nevada as a tank engineer and Las Vegas had to build another tank farm to hold the excessive amount from Los Angeles and Oklahoma due to the lack of flights taking off from Las Vegas during the Lockdown, so we do have a surplus, just 2 meatheads that want us to rely on imports again since our leader has stock in Burisma.

      1. Dawn,
        You were tricked by Sacramento in to voting NO on Prop 6 and that is why we have increased gas taxes every year! Sorry but you you were not informed on this prop. Not your fault, they always word things to trick us.

    2. Yes, when Sacramento tricked voters on Prop 6 a couple of years ago and voted NO, they gave themselves years of increased gas taxes. Money is never used for its stated purpose by the Dems. We never build more reservoirs or dams to collect water so we constantly have shortages. They give electric companies increases whenever they ask so our electric bills go up and up and we still have brown outs and shortages there!! Clean out Sacramento and put people in who are honest and know how to run something. VOTE ON 9/14/21 to remove the Governor!!

    1. Thanks John, Get everyone out to vote on Sept. 14th to remove and replace this failed Governor!! Let’s get rid of as many Dems as we can in 2022!!

  3. Already inflated gas price, with an additional $.50/gal tax has Californian’s paying $1 MORE PER GALLON than the National Average. Consider the massive amount of products (including renewables, ie. wind turbines) that require
    oil to produce, in addition to transporting them, and we haven’t begun to reach the pinnacle of hurt California will experience. Inflation/shrinkflation (smaller portions, same or higher prices). RECALLGAVIN.2020 (Sept 14)
    Save California!

  4. To beat the Big Oil gasoline price rip-off, buy a Tesla. There are 3 billion barrels of oil in the ground in California, so the gasoline price should be the lowest in the nation.

    1. If the State of California would issue drilling permits we would have plenty of oil, unfortunately, they are limiting the process.

      1. They are even restricting and implementing new laws on those who already have drilling permits in California. Texas is a whole other story, no issues at all.

      2. Same way they’re draining the reservoirs to create the human-caused drought…

        These emotion-driven Democrats are PURPOSELY DESYROYING (Y)OUR livelihoods!!!

        Time to throw them all out, starting with Newsom, then Boudin, Weiner the drug-pusher, Gonzalez Fletcher and her stupid husband, too, Pelosi, Waters, Gascon, Garcetti, Ting and the new kids from the San Fernando Valley…

        Gawd, what a clusterf### of a state!!!

        1. VOTE on Sept. 14th to remove and replace our governor!!!! Get as many Dems out of office as we can to bring back our state and economy!!

    2. California also has the highest electricity prices and the most unreliable grid. Then there is Elon’s love affair with the red Chinese.

    3. Earl, we don’t have the electricity capability to charge all the electric cars. Gov. Gruesome is already telling everyone to cut back on their electricity and that there will be brown outs this summer!!

  5. If California as a state would provide drilling permits instead of holding them back, we wouldn’t need Foreign oil

  6. Gruesome could fix this by his magical Executive Order under his magical Emergency Powers, yes?
    Why doesn’t he then? The State supposedly has more money than God now, doesn’t it?
    (Another lie. We’re swimming in them.)
    Save the date: SEPTEMBER 14, 2021
    https://recallgavin2020.com/
    For updates and to donate if you can

  7. AAA is at least partially—maybe fully—to blame for the situation California and the entire country is in. AAA could be a loud and effective lobbying voice for drivers but it’s not. AAA stands by and says nothing while the feds and the states divert billions of dollars in gas taxes to subsidize transit.

    In 2019, CA diverted $1.5 billion to transit. (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2019/hdf.cfm).

    Nationwide, federal, state and local governments spent $17.5 billion of highway revenue on transit, plus another $15.8 billion on other “nonhighway purposes”. (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2019/hf10.cfm).

    Whenever we hear about increasing taxes for “transportation”, it’s highway taxes they’re talking about, never “transit taxes”.

    Rail and transit interests have their lobbies, which are very effective in schmoozing politicians into raiding highway “trust” funds. Who lobbies for motorists? Nobody. Certainly not AAA!

  8. Not to mention some of the worst roads in the country. Higher gas taxes equal worse roads. There is no aspect of civilized society that California will not F-up.

  9. Why doesn’t this story reference California state gasoline taxes as a contributor? Yes, these are all valid points, but the taxes are the biggest single contributor to this problem and there is no mention of it anywhere.

  10. Much of these increases are do to taxes, the very taxes California voters, voted in favor of…You all know who you are, so you morons can not complain, not one damned bit…
    But the larger issue, what’s comes of the increase tax dollars, where & what is done with those funds..And ultimately, when our elected state officials have no accountability, it doesn’t matter what happens to the money, they simply raise taxes again…There needs to be two thinks but in place, accountability, & term limits…

  11. Highest State gas tax per gallon in united states, Election don’t matter when its rigged. who is counting the vote is what matters Do you believe that California citizens voted for higher tax on gas? Check majority ownership of voting machines used in California Elections. Yep you would correct, Senator Fienstien and husband.. same Senator that had a Chinese spy for 25 years I mean “driver” BOOM

    1. Whitey,
      Californians we tricked in to voting NO on Prop. 6 a couple of years ago. The people in Sacramento word props to trick people in to voting the wrong way. I was involved in that initiative! I saw what they did. There are still a lot of people who don’t read what is on their ballots too, I agree. We have a lot of uninformed voters but I think they are starting to finally wake up! I worked on the recall for 9 months and 36% of signers were Dems. There is hope!!

  12. One why gas prices are going higher DEMOCRATS. RAISING GAS TAX NOT ALLOWING DRILLING PERMITS. Keep voting for Democrats expect more of this.

  13. Wow what a bunch of trump D*** sucking Who** this state wants to be a clean and environmental friendly state. Move the Fu** out if you don’t like it. Boo hoo you’re paying $200 more per year, buy a hybrid or an EV. All these MF COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS AND THAT AND YET THEY’RE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM. THEY CHEAT IN THEIR TAX RIGHTOFF EVERYTHING. WE HAVE A MOUNTAIN THAT BLOCKS ALL THAT CAR POLLUTION FROM LEAVING THE STATE…TEXAS NEVER FEELS THIS PROBLEM IT GOES TO THE NEXT STATE. ALL YOU MF COMPLAINING BIT** MOVE OUT GO TO TEXAS! INSTEAD OF TRYING TO TYEN CALIFORNIA IN TO TEXAS. MORE PPL WHAT CALIFORNIA TO BE LIKE THIS THEN YOU POS.

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