Exploding Gas Prices

Well, the good news is that gas prices are lower than they were last year at this time. The bad news is that for the past month they're been on a steady climb back up to the point where between Thursday and Friday the increase was a whopping 12 cents per gallon, the largest one day jump in more than 2 years.

The people I spoke to at the pump at Lou's Unocal in the San Fernando Valley were sort of philosophical about it, essentially saying ''you have to pay for gas, so what are you going to do?' Of course if you try to answer the question of ''why'' prices jump around, that's tough. The conventional wisdom is that California requires a special, more expensive blend than other states due to our stricter environmental regulations.

That means if there's shortage in refined crude, such as one resulting from, oh, a refinery shutdown in Northern California or the Torrance refinery fire of a week ago, gasoline is in shorter supply and oil companies can't just go buy a replacement shipment from a different state because of our special 'blend' if you will.

The more cynical explanation advanced by people like Jamie McCourt well known consumer activist and head of the savvy ''Consumer Watchdog ''Organization is essentially that big oil artificially manipulates supply of crude and of gas here in California and therefor manipulates prices as well. In fact in large part due to McCourt's activism, State Senator Kevin Deleon is going to hold hearings in Sacramento in March on just how we've gotten into this ( relatively ) higher price predicament. I'm sure they'll get a lot of attention and news coverage, I'm not so sure when they're over we'll have any clearer picture of the reason's behind our gas price fluctuation. Of course you could always do what the man I met pedaling by the gas station does.... ride two wheels instead of four. Then again he only lives a mile or so from work. Lucky him.

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