California Should Take Action to Reduce Gas Prices

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Ouch. I just filled up my creaking 2010 Camry for $4.54 a gallon at an Arco in Orange. The 14.89 gallons came to $67.60.

I keep track of my gas expenses on an Excel spreadsheet. Looking back to January 2021, a week before Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, I paid $2.84 a gallon at the same station for 15.54 gallons. Total: $44.13.

So the price went up $1.70 a gallon, or 60 percent under Biden. I fill up about once a week, usually around 15 gallons, so that’s $25.50 a week more, or $1,326 more a year. Although I am trying to drive less.

Biden is blaming it on the crisis in Ukraine. But, according to my records, I was paying $4.00 a gallon last October at the same station—four months ago. The increase in prices clearly began when he took office, shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, started attacking fossil fuel production, ended American energy independence, and injected $1 trillion more spending into the economy with his COVID recovery bill, when the economy already was recovering.

Not to mention the Federal Reserve Board’s continued zero-rate interest policy, which encourages home prices to go up from excessive lending, and only now may be ending.

But California also is to blame for our own high oil prices here. According to GasBuddy, the average gas price the past month in America was $3.53 a gallon on Feb. 23. That’s a dollar less than what we’re paying.

Let’s look at some things California can do to reduce the gouging at the pump.

1. Pass Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gas-tax increase “holiday,” as he called for in his Jan. 10 budget proposal. That scheduled tax increase is linked to inflation and would cost motorists an estimated $523 million more a year. Unfortunately, according to the Associated Press, the Legislature’s Democratic leaders are reluctant to do so even though Newsom pegs the state’s extraordinary surplus at $45.7 billion.

“We passed the gas tax [in 2017] for a very specific reason,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). “We need to make sure that our transit operations are running and running smoothly. We want to make sure that our roads are safe and all those types of things. We want to make sure that our construction workers, folks in the building trades, are working on those projects.”

2. Pass a bill suspending the 50-cent gas hike, the overall tax increase Rendon spoke of from 2017, when gas goes above $4.00 a gallon. It raises $5 billion a year for transit construction and repair. The money should have come from the general fund by cutting waste in other areas. Now, at least, it should be suspended when gas costs rise too high, as they have now. A good threshold for suspension would be $4.00 a gallon.

3. Start fracking again in California. Reported KCRA 3 last November, “California regulators haven’t approved permits for the controversial oil and gas extraction process known as fracking since February, effectively phasing out the process ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2024 deadline to end it.”

That means more imports from other states, increasing transportation and other costs for Californians. We have the liquid gold under the ground right here in the Golden State. We just have to start extracting more of it again.

4. Dump Senate Bill 953 by state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), which would ban offshore drilling and end all oil production in California waters, killing many thousands of jobs and boosting gas prices even higher for drivers.

Min is a one-man jobs killer. His previous bill, Senate Bill 264, banned gun shows at the Orange County Fairgrounds—although they still were allowed at fairgrounds in nearby counties. It was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and killed about 50 jobs.

5. Pass the Transparency at the Pump bill. This was Senate Bill 1074 from 2018, by John Moorlach, at the time a state senator; I worked then as his press secretary. It would have to be reintroduced by someone currently in the legislature. It would list on each gas pump the cost of taxes and regulations for each gallon.

Alternatively, this would be a great ballot initiative for 2024. Only those who want to keep hidden how much we pay in taxes would oppose it.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Seiler

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John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. He has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com



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