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Santa Monica, CA – Consumer Watchdog today reiterated calls for an increase in the state’s oil reserves as Los Angeles gas prices jumped $1.03 cents in the last month, the highest in the state, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report website. Los Angeles prices at the pump for regular gas have reached $3.53 per gallon, a dollar and nine cents, or 45% higher than the national average of $2.44 per gallon.

“Angelenos are feeling the brunt of a statewide crisis – California oil refiners’ stranglehold on supply that gives them free rein to manipulate the market and spike prices even as crude prices remain low,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. “Lawmakers have a simple solution at hand – mandating a minimum 24 days of supply of gasoline. It’s time to bring California up to national standards and remove a key supply metric from the oil companies’ control.”

California keeps just 10 days of supply of gasoline on hand, less than half of the nation’s average of 24 days of supply, making the gas market in California tighter and more vulnerable to volatility than the rest of the nation.

Consumer Watchdog has called on Governor Brown and regulators to investigate refinery closures since refineries began slowing production in early February. Tesoro’s Martinez refinery was shut down on February 2nd during the steelworkers’ nationwide strike, despite its CEO’s assurances to investors that refineries can continue operating with lower staff levels indefinitely. Production was further cut after an explosion rocked Exxon’s Torrance refinery. The two refineries together represent 16.5 percent of the state’s refining capacity.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León has announced hearings into the Torrance refinery explosion, refinery infrastructure, and on gasoline pricing and supply. Consumer Watchdog is also pressing lawmakers to pass legislation mandating on-site inspections when refineries close to determine if the closures are for legitimate reasons.

“Gas prices forty-five percent above the national average is ridiculous, and does not reflect normal supply and demand,” said Tucker. “Californians want answers and lawmakers should subpoena refinery CEOs to get them.  Just because oil companies are the largest lobbyists in the state, doesn’t mean their industry should get a free pass time and again—from accidents that poison people to manipulation of supply that poisons prices at the pump.”

Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Report

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