News & Politics

California Gas Price Averages Soar to All-Time Record High

Rick Bowmer

On Sunday, California gas prices rose to a record-setting high average of $4.676 per gallon for regular gasoline, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The previous record average price of $4.671 was set in October 2012.

The Golden State is America’s largest state by population and currently has the highest gas prices in the country even as the national average dropped slightly to $3.413.

One reason for the increase, AAA said, is the state’s reduced refinery production capacity due to heavy rainstorms in northern California which then trickled down the supply chain, impacting southern California similar to what happened in Louisiana during Hurricane Ida last August.

“It’s a bit of a supply crunch we have right now, there’s nothing major, until the refineries in Northern California can get back up to full production capacity,” said Jeffrey Spring, Corporate Communications Manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for AAA, said that although Californians are used to paying more for gas, the price has been much higher lately due to higher crude oil prices and pent-up demand from the pandemic. “Typically we see prices at the pump fall off after Labor Day because people have completed their summer vacations. Kids are back in school,” Shupe said. “But this year people are still traveling. There’s still that demand for fuel to get to where people want to go.”

Gas prices have increased steadily throughout 2021 as fuel demand grows around the world, however, suppliers like OPEC have been unable — or unwilling — to produce more oil while Biden shuts down pipelines at home. U.S. oil prices have climbed over 65% this year while U.S. oil production is around 14% below the levels of 2019 and at the end of the Trump administration before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Meanwhile, with gasoline prices surging to seven-year highs and Wall Street banks warning that $100-$120 per barrel oil is on the horizon, prices haven’t plateaued quite yet, Spring said. “Maybe we’re at the tippy top of [these] price increases, barring any other issues,” Spring said. “So we’re hoping by the end of the year that things will start heading downward.”

But hope for the future holds little relief for the average California commuter who is paying over $1.50 more per gallon, or over $21 extra at the pump, on top of paying the nation’s highest gas taxes courtesy of our feckless Democratic leaders like Gavin Newsom. Sadly, with California’s ports and supply chain still a mess as our state economy struggles to come back from the pandemic, not with a roar but a whimper, it doesn’t look like the situation will improve any time soon for California consumers.