RIVERSIDE, Calif. - It happens every summer. Just as the vacation driving season begins every year, gas prices go up.
Here in California, we are told that producing the special summer blend, which is cleaner, makes it more expensive. But Jamie Court, from Consumer Watchdog, is one of the critics who say it’s not worth the average $1 more that gasoline costs in our state, year-round.
Another factor touted for higher prices is more people are out because of COVID-19, there isn’t enough supply. The question is why? Gas company executives couldn’t up the supply in preparation? How about the stoppage of an East Coast pipeline that was hacked?
Not in California, we don’t get our supply from them (remember, it’s that special blend), so while there may be lines in Florida, to fill up, it shouldn’t be an issue here.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: California gas prices reach $4/gallon, AAA reports
"It’s the expectation of a panic" explains Court, that will drive prices up, regardless.
The panic makes people psychologically likely to accept the higher prices here, warranted or not, he adds, which means that oil companies can make more money.
No comment from the executives we reached out to, but owners at the smaller, independent gas stations agree. Their profit margin is the same as the big names, even if they can charge less because they get it for a lower price.
But keeping their prices lower is necessary, as it will draw in customers, who will then purchase the chips, water, soda and other items inside the little markets usually associated with the gas station. That’s where the profit comes in. They make more on those items than on the gasoline sales.
Ultimately, it does seem to be about profit, and the California legislature has been investigating oil companies, for some time. Even if you compare the price now, with the pre-pandemic price of 2019, it’s still higher.
"There has to be a will to go after them," says Court, echoing other groups that have been complaining about the enormous profits that gas companies make, especially in California.
The prices always go up faster, and the increments get bigger, with every year that passes. That will continue being the case, activists tell FOX 11, until investigations are inconclusive and fines, when given, are no more than the cost of doing business.