Ouch, talk about pain at the pump! The average price of gasoline in California rose to $4.65 on Sunday, which is 84 cents higher than the national average. Gas prices in the state have been on the rise all week and jumped almost 20 cents to $4.49 on Friday, then continued increasing Saturday and Sunday. California often has gas shortages at this time of year, as refiners switch to fall gasoline blends to meet state pollution standards. But this year, rationing has caused gas stations to close pumps, created gas lines, and pushed prices above $5 in some areas of the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to intervene by calling for the immediate release of a cheaper, but less environmentally friendly blend of gasoline.
Brown directed the California Air Resources Board to permit oil companies to start selling winter-blend gasoline, which evaporates more quickly in warm weather than the summer blend. Normally, winter blend isn't permitted to be released until Oct. 31:
The air resources board will follow the governor's direction and tell refineries and importers that they can start selling the cheaper gasoline right away, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the agency.
"This would immediately increase the supply of gasoline in California," said Chris Faulkner, an energy expert and chief executive of Breitling Oil & Gas Corp. in Dallas.
The early release of the "winter-blend" gasoline is expected to speed up the process of bringing fuel prices down, says Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor of the Oil Price Information Service, and estimates the per gallon price to reach "$4.15 or so" by Thanksgiving.