California repeatedly warned about spiking gas prices, fragile supply. But fixes never came:
California’s gas prices have been going up and down for weeks, and now they’re at their highest point in at least a year. But the cause is far from clear, and state regulators haven’t given much thought to how to solve the problem.
Since July, the price of gasoline has climbed and climbed and climbed. Over the past three months, the price was going up so fast that drivers were pulling away from the pumps in droves.
What’s going on?
We’ve asked, and the answer is that the state regulator has been ignoring gas prices — and that it’s not clear why. Gas prices have been rising for weeks, but, as of Thursday, the California Energy Commission appears to be in denial.
“The price of gas at the [California] Energy Commission,” said John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer, to the Los Angeles Times, “is just as much a political issue for the [California] Commission as it is an economic issue for the industry.”
“It’s the gas industry versus the state of California on prices of gas,” said Jodi Thoennes, executive director of the California Air Resources Board, to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s really an economic issue for the industry.”
There are two reasons the California Energy Commission (CEI) has been ignoring this question: one is that it is so politicized that it can’t admit that its regulatory authority is limited; the second is that there’s no one who can answer the question.
We asked the CEI what, exactly, it is doing to control prices of gasoline and, we were told, “We continue to monitor the market and we have seen no changes in price trends.”
But the fact is that there hasn’t been much of a price trend in California gas since at least the summer of 2006, when the state was at its lowest ebb in at least a year.
Now that the price has climbed, however, there’s no explanation why?
The CEI has had a policy of not commenting on pricing — a policy it seems to violate almost regularly — and when we asked a State Water Resources Control Board (TWRCB) official, we