California gas prices reached yet another record Monday and unfortunately for drivers, there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight.
The statewide average hit $4.74 for a gallon of regular unleaded on President’s Day. Los Angeles, Orange County and San Bernardino also hit their all-time highs Monday, with pump prices averaging $4.79, $4.76 and $4.73 respectively, according to AAA data.
California continues to have the highest gas prices in the U.S., well above the nationwide average of $3.53.
All this is coming at a time when drivers normally pay less to fill up their tanks. Typically, demand for gas decreases during winter, something that puts downward pressure on fuel costs, according to the Auto Club. But crude oil prices remain elevated, which is pushing gasoline costs higher.
“The number one reason why we’re seeing these pump prices is the geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine. That’s putting upward pressure on the crude oil prices, AAA spokesperson Doug Shupe explained. “Also, as many parts of the country start warming up, the demand for fuel is increasing as people start to head out and take those road trips.”
On top of that, local refineries have been shifting away from producing the cheaper winter blend gasoline as we head toward the warmer months of spring.
“Here in Southern California, the more expensive summer blend fuel entered the marketplace about two weeks ago,” Shupe told KTLA. “That summer blend fuel is more expensive to produce because it’s made to be less likely to evaporate in the warmer temperatures. But that cost of making that is passed along to the consumer.”
Other factors for the Golden state’s higher pump prices include environmental regulations, geography and the gas tax, which at 51.1 cents is the second highest in the nation.
California’s gas tax is set to go up again on July 1, part of a schedule of incremental hikes that have taken place annually since 2017 because of Senate Bill 1 .
At the national level, some Senate Democrats introduced legislation earlier this month that would pause the federal gas tax through the end of the year. But that effort has been met by opposition from both political parties, the Associated Press reported.