By Julie Watts

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s no secret that in California, we pay higher gas prices than the rest of the states.

The California Energy Commission found Californians pay 30 cents more per gallon and $4.50 more per tank than the rest of the country. That amounts to about $11.6 billion more than other states in the past five years.

Now Governor Newsom is calling for an investigation into the possibility of false advertising and price-fixing by the state’s largest oil companies.

The commission took into account explainable factors like the cost of making gas to the state’s strict standards and refinery outages, but they found that it doesn’t account for the higher prices.

Data shows margins at the refineries consistently run about 10 cents higher than the rest of the country, to account for California’s blend, spiking in 2015 due to a refinery fire. But, gas station margins spiked and stayed higher, with no explanation.

Now some gas stations claim they’re charging more for superior quality gas, but the commission notes all California gas is required to meet high standards, so they question whether those advertised additives are really superior, and are now pointing to possible false advertising.

In a statement, an industry representative said, “It’s important to note that CEC’s own numbers show our state’s regulatory environment plays a big role in the ever-increasing affordability challenges Californians face.”

The bottom line is, the price of gas here is unregulated, so oil companies can charge as much as consumers are willing to pay. If they all charge higher prices, consumers don’t have another option.

The average price of gas in California Tuesday was $4.13, according to AAA.

Julie Watts

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