Gas prices in California have reached record highs, with some stations charging over $7 a gallon. Drivers in San Diego are feeling the pinch, as they have to shell out more money for their daily commute and other expenses. Some residents say they have to choose between filling up their tank or buying lunch.
Why are gas prices so high in California?
One of the main reasons for the high gas prices in California is the state’s strict environmental regulations, which require a special blend of gasoline that is cleaner and more expensive than the national average. The state also has a high gas tax, which is currently 51.1 cents per gallon, the second-highest in the country after Pennsylvania.
Another factor is the limited supply of gasoline in the state, which is dependent on a few refineries that often face disruptions due to maintenance, accidents, or power outages. Recently, a fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, reduced the state’s refining capacity by 10%, causing a spike in wholesale prices.
Additionally, the global energy crisis, driven by the rising demand for oil and natural gas amid the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, has also contributed to the increase in gas prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have been reluctant to boost production, despite the pressure from the U.S. and other countries. The price of crude oil, which accounts for about half of the cost of gasoline, has surged to over $80 a barrel, the highest level since 2014.
How are drivers coping with the high gas prices?
Many drivers in San Diego are struggling to cope with the high gas prices, which have forced them to cut back on other expenses or look for alternative modes of transportation. Some drivers say they have to spend $100 or $150 to fill up their tank, which lasts them only a week.
“I am fortunate to be a travel nurse at this moment, but I am thinking of staying staff in San Diego, and it would be very hard to stay as staff unless the wages went up,” said Devon, a travel nurse currently in San Diego. She said a travel nurse’s salary has helped with making the cost of living in the city manageable, but on a staff wage it would be “really difficult.”
“Especially like living on your own, paying one rent by yourself. So hopefully, gas prices go down,” Devon said.
Rocco, a local automotive technician, said his pay has fluctuated, but his wages have not kept pace with the rising price of gas or the general cost of living in San Diego.
“It’s not equivalent, you know, like it doesn’t make up for how high gas prices are in comparison to what I make,” he said. “You know, groceries, bills, phone bill, rent, everything. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, I can’t go out this week. I can’t do this.’ It’s kind of hard.”
Some drivers have opted to use public transportation, carpool, or ride-sharing services to save money on gas. Others have switched to electric or hybrid vehicles, which are more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. However, these options are not available or affordable for everyone, and some drivers say they have no choice but to pay the high gas prices.
What are the possible solutions to the high gas prices?
The high gas prices in California have sparked a debate over the state’s energy policies and the need for more investment in renewable and alternative sources of energy. Some lawmakers and experts have called for the state to relax its environmental regulations and increase its refining capacity to lower the cost of gasoline. Others have argued that the state should continue to pursue its ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy.
Governor Gavin Newsom has blamed the oil industry for the high gas prices, accusing them of price gouging and market manipulation. He has asked the California Energy Commission to investigate the causes of the price spike and to take action to protect consumers. He has also urged the federal government to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a stockpile of crude oil that can be used in emergencies, to ease the supply crunch.
President Joe Biden has also expressed concern over the high gas prices, which have hurt his approval ratings and the economic recovery. He has urged OPEC and its allies to increase production, and has also considered releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has also proposed a $3.5 trillion spending plan that includes measures to boost clean energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
However, some analysts say that the high gas prices are likely to persist for a while, as the demand for oil and gas outstrips the supply, and as the transition to renewable and alternative sources of energy takes time and money. They advise drivers to be prepared for more pain at the pump, and to look for ways to conserve fuel and reduce their carbon footprint.