California’s average gasoline price topped $6 a gallon for the first time on Tuesday, just two months after drivers were stunned to see $5 prices at the pump for the first time. And there are no signs of a decline anytime soon.
In San Jose, prices averaged $6.12 on Tuesday, Oakland hit $6.13, and San Francisco and Marin counties tied for the region’s most expensive at $6.27, according to AAA. The state’s average jumped 30 cents last month — and a staggering $1.36 year-to-date — as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine combined to a spike in inflation and increased demand for fuel to drive up gasoline prices.
On Tuesday, all 50 US states crossed the $4 per gallon mark for the first time.
“Even the annual seasonal drop in gasoline demand during the lull between Spring Break and Memorial Day, which would normally help drive prices down, is having no effect this year,” said Andrew Gross, gatekeeper. -says AAA, which blamed global oil costs, now over $114 a barrel, for “driving these high prices at the pump for consumers.”
For a round-trip commuter car ride from downtown San Jose to San Francisco, soaring fuel prices translate to burning $20 worth of gasoline in a vehicle averaging 30 miles per gallon. That’s up $5 from January 2022 and almost double the cost from January 2021.
The increasingly painful visits to the gas station follow one another 70% of Americans now say inflation is the number one problem facing the United States, beating out health care affordability, violent crime and COVID-19, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week. Nationally, the annual inflation rate hit 8.3% in April, a pace close to its highest level in 40 years.
Athena Bonneau, an Indigenous Canadian journalist traveling through California, has seen gas prices climb steadily as she travels in the Pacific Northwest and the Bay Area.
“It started at $4 and went to $5 and now here,” said Bonneau, who paid $6.69 a gallon Tuesday in a Valero in Berkeley. “It’s the highest I’ve ever seen.”
Drivers feeling the pinch may wonder if Sacramento still plans to send gas tax financial relief after a flurry of proposals in March. The answer is yes, Californians can expect hundreds of dollars this year, but it probably won’t arrive in time for your summer road trip because budget negotiations between the governor and the Democratic leadership hang out.
California has long paid the the highest fuel prices in the countrya sting that is particularly felt now that the average price per gallon is $1.50 higher than the national average.
Among the reasons for the state’s highest status are a 51-cent gas tax — only Pennsylvania levies a higher gas tax — as well as environmental fees to help fight climate change. and a more expensive emission fuel mixture unique to the Golden State.
This whole country is also transitioning from winter to more expensive summer fuel blends by early June. These mixtures are intended to prevent gasoline evaporation and smog during warmer months and typically add seven to ten cents per gallon, according to AAA.
Yet there was also a difference of more than 30 cents between California and the national average that analysts can’t seem to explain, with fingers pointing to big gas station companies’ profit taking.
The oil industry reaped massive rewards as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drove up fuel costs and gas demand rebounded after COVID restrictions eased.
Saudi Aramco, which recently overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company, said on Sunday its profits soared more than 80% in the first three months of the year as the government-backed company State takes advantage of the volatility of global energy markets and the oil boom. prices. California imports more than 16% of its oil comes from Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, London-based Shell reported adjusted profit of $9.1 billion earlier this month, up $3.2 billion from the same period last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.