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Taking aim at the Golden State gas price 'gouge'

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Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 20:47:14-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — At a Golden Hill Shell Station Wednesday, Efren Beteancor was already nostalgic for last month.

"I remember I put 40 bucks in my car and the tank was full, and now the $40 is nothing," he said. "It's very, very expensive."

The average price for a regular gallon in San Diego is continuing to set records — now nearly $6 — as the war in Ukraine carries on.

But the price increases are also leading to new scrutiny over why gas is so expensive.

"There is no good explanation for it because when you add taxes and environmental fees to our gas, it adds maybe 60 cents per gallon over the average driver in the U.S. We're paying a $1.50 more by conservative estimates," said Jamie Court, founder of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog.

State Sen. Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles) has proposed a bill that would require refineries to regularly disclose how much they pay for oil and the profit margin they make on gas. If passed, it could shine light into what Allen's office calls the Golden State Gouge.

The phenomenon began in 2015 after a fire at the Torrance Exxon Mobil refinery shut it down for a year.

Consumer Watchdog says in the aftermath refineries began charging branded stations 30 to 40 cents more per gallon as a way to take advantage of the supply shortage. That cost gets passed along to the consumer. It's practice has not stopped despite that same refinery coming back online in 2016.

Allen's office says five refineries control 96 percent of the gasoline made in California. His legislation is headed to the State Senate's Energy, Utilities and Communications committee.