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California Drivers Paying A Hefty Premium At The Pump

Aired 5/28/12 on KPBS News.

The summer driving season is here, and California drivers are paying premium prices at the pump. The difference between local and national prices is nearly double what it was last year.

— California gas is always more expensive than the national average. Last year, the average price at the California pump was 32 cents a gallon higher that the average price in the rest of the country.

The Utility Consumer's Action Network tracks local prices. UCAN finds the spread has more than doubled this year, to 66 cents a gallon.

"When you have a market that isn't very competitive, there's a perverse incentive to actually restrict supply," said Charles Langley of the Utility Consumer's Action Network. "And that's what happened with the rolling blackouts with electricity. Everyone assumed that these electricity vendors would produce as much electricity as they could and compete."

February tax figures from the state indicate that for the first time in a year gas consumption is up -- even as prices surged.

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