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Californians paid $1 billion extra for their gasoline

Staff writer |
Californians paid $1 billion extra for their gasoline over national average in March, according to an analysis of the latest government data by Consumer Watchdog.

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The nonprofit consumer group said refiners continued to reap a windfall in the wake of refinery shutdowns in February, driving prices at the pump artificially high, a situation exacerbated by low gasoline inventories in the state.

"Oil companies keep California running on empty so that when a refinery goes down gasoline prices go way up," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

"In March the average Californian had to work almost two extra hours to pay for higher California prices. With crude prices at historic lows and national gasoline prices stable, California oil refiners need to answer for the $1 billion extra they charged last month. The legislature should demand that the companies explain their billion dollar bonanza."

In March, California averaged 84 cents higher than the national average of $2.54 per gallon, or $3.38 per gallon in the state. As a result, Californians spent $1,046,772,798 more for their gasoline in March than US drivers. The gas price gap with America grew to over $1 billion in March from $550 million in February.

The added cost to California drivers from the gap was $34 million per day extra, or $43 dollar per driver, in March (nearly twice the average California wage of $25 per hour). Oil companies often argue that higher prices are due to California's higher taxes, but when factoring for them (15 cents over the US average according to the American Petroleum Institute), Californians still paid an extra $860 million in March.

In the first quarter of 2015, the gap between US and California prices cost drivers nearly $2 billion more ($1.98 billion). Subtract higher taxes in California, the gouging gap remains $1.45 billion more than US gasoline prices.

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