SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A state panel is meeting Monday to investigate why California gas prices are consistently higher than the national average and whether state lawmakers can do anything about it.

Fuel experts, economists and consumer advocates are expected to appear at a meeting of the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, a panel appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to provide advice to fuel regulators.

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The panel is studying policy changes to address the volatility in prices.

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California drivers tend to pay more than the rest of the nation, partly because of higher taxes and higher fuel blend standards to meet the state’s unique air-quality rules, even as oil prices have plunged. The California Energy Commission said the average California price for a gallon of gasoline was 73 cents higher than the national average.

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Committee Chairman Severin Borenstein has said the taxes and cleaner-burning fuel do not account for the full difference.
Lawmakers last year held hearings on gas prices after one of the largest price swings in recent history. State energy officials said two refineries that make up 17 percent of the state’s crude-oil processing capacity went offline after a plant explosion and a labor dispute.