California gas prices jump to record high
LOS ANGELES - The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in California is now $5.44 per gallon, up $0.10 from the day before. It's also up 76 cents from just a month ago.
In Southern California, motorists are already seeing stations charging customers more than $6 a gallon to fuel up.
That's well above the national average of $4.17 per gallon, according to AAA.
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The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose 8.9 cents to $5.518 Tuesday, its 30th record in 32 days.
The average price rose 12.8 cents Sunday, its second-largest increase since July 14, 2015, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
The Los Angeles County average price has risen 34 times in 37 days, increasing 84.9 cents. It is 62 cents more than one week ago, 77.3 cents higher than one month ago and $1.705 greater than one year ago.
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The Orange County average price rose 8.8 cents to $5.514, its 29th record in 34 days.
The Orange County average price has increased 24 of the past 26 days, rising 79.2 cents. The Orange County average price is 64.4 cents more than one week ago, 78.9 cents higher than one month ago and $1.708 greater than one year ago.
Oil industry analysts attribute the price spike to the possibility of a supply shortage because traders, shippers, insurance companies and banks are avoiding Russian oil transactions for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions.
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday a ban on Russian oil imports in retaliation for its war of Ukraine. The move follows pleas by Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports. Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
The rapid rise in fuel prices has led some consumers to complain of price gouging, But experts say that there is nothing illegal about gas station owners increasing prices as long as they do not coordinate their rates with other businesses.
"It's not illegal to charge high prices in and of itself," said Jim Bushnell, an energy economist at UC Berkeley. "It's illegal to conspire with others to fix prices and do other things to reduce competition."
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KTVU and CNS contributed to this report.