California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the attorney general to investigate why the state's gas prices are so high, pointing to a new report suggesting big oil companies are "misleading and overcharging customers" by as much as $1 per gallon.
Name brand retailers - including 76, Chevron and Shell - often charge more because they say their gasoline is of higher quality. But a new analysis from the California Energy Commission could not explain the price difference. The commission said California drivers paid an average of 30 cents more per gallon in 2018, with the difference getting as high as $1 per gallon in April of this year.
The result is California drivers paid an additional $11.6 billion at the pump over the last five years. The California Energy Commission said it "does not have any evidence that gasoline retailers fixed prices or engaged in false advertising." But it said the industry did not provide any proof that its gasoline was better than what the state requires all retailers to sell.
While California is known for its environmentally-conscious fuel standards, the state was the seventh-largest producer of crude oil in the country in March of this year. The oil industry is a powerful force in California politics, working to halt legislation in the state Assembly earlier this year that would have limited new oil and gas production around homes and schools.
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With files from the Associated Press.
Severin Borenstein, professor of business administration and public policy and director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business