State gas prices reach all-time high
Gasoline prices have set yet another record in California, prompting lawmakers to scramble and motorists to grumble.
AAA reported a new high for the average gallon of self-serve, unleaded – $2.21, a nickel less than South Lake Tahoe’s. The state rates rank 50 cents more than fuel prices at the beginning of the year, $1.70, which now seems like the distant past.
And given the high demand of the summer driving season – causing analysts to look at prices possibly topping $3 – the future appears to be an expensive one.
“This probably won’t be the last record high price set this summer,” AAA spokesman Sean Comey said.
Every California community the auto club tracks has passed the $2 a gallon threshold. Motorists pay the highest in San Francisco at $2.30 a gallon.
Still, things could be worse, Pat O’Connor of San Mateo said at the 76 Station on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
On his home turf of Ireland, prices run $4.50 a gallon.
The sedan driver said he would rather talk conservation and get the gas guzzlers like sports utility vehicles off the road.
Bay Area resident Frances Valdez complained Tuesday when he filled up his tank near Stateline.
“It’s too high,” Valdez said, adding he’s curbed his trips to the store and other errands.
Many drivers in the basin are seeking relief at Nevada stations selling gas for $1.97 a gallon.
“We’re seeing a lot of California (license) plates,” said Kathy Moore, who works at Good Cents in Minden. Moore added that business has been good in the last few months because of the high prices elsewhere.
With California’s fuel price coming in 43 cents higher than the national average, state Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, has asked the Legislature to demand President Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency stop requiring the Golden State to use ethanol.
The expensive oxygenate derived from corn, like the Tahoe-banned methyl tertiary-butyl ether, has been billed as a compound that enhances combustion and burns cleaner.
Exacerbating the issue, the U.S. Department of Energy has reported fuel stockpiles as “chronically low,” setting the stage for higher prices on the horizon. The energy division expects the daily use of gasoline, diesel and other fuels to rise this year by 1.7 million barrels – the largest gain in seven years.
The low supply and high demand of fuel make for a formula costing a new vehicle owner 56.2 cents a mile.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org