The price of gasoline will drive you nuts

For many California voters, this is the summer of their discontent. And in the coming election, they just might do something about it.

Motorists hit the road this week to celebrate the Fourth of July—and they got hit with sticker shock. Drivers shelled out a nationwide average of $2.90 per gallon for regular gasoline, the highest Independence Day price since 2014 when the U.S. average hit $3.66 per gallon. Those numbers come from GasBuddy, a smartphone app that drivers use to compare petrol prices.

Over the first four days of July, gas purchases cost motorists about $1 billion more than last year, the company says.

Fact is, local drivers would love $2.90 a gallon.

The state’s tough emissions law and high taxes make California gasoline prices second-highest in the nation. (Hawaii is first.) The notoriously pricey Chevron station at Parkway Calabasas charges almost $4 a gallon for regular and $4.20 for premium.

It’s the usual song and dance that we always hear: A refinery goes down, OPEC curbs production, a pipeline breaks, and all the while the U.S. demand for oil inches back up.

What happened to electric?

While 2017 was the best year ever for electric vehicle sales in America, the number of plug-in cars still represents only about 3 percent of the nation’s total rolling stock, recent statistics show.

Fact is, we are still an oil-dependent nation.

Which gets us back to the price of gasoline and the realization that while the cost of worldwide oil may dip from time to time, the taxes imposed by the state and federal government conspire to keep prices at the pump permanently high.

Signed into law in April 2017, California Senate Bill 1 raised the vehicle registration fee and increased the gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon. (California now adds about 60 cents in state and local taxes to each gallon sold.) And while the controversial bill is expected to fund $54 billion in road improvements and highway repairs throughout the state over the next 10 years—including a resurfacing project on the 23 Freeway between Moorpark and Thousand Oaks—voters are unhappy about the added cost and may use the ballot box in November to repeal the tax.

A recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll found that just 38 percent of voters support the higher fees and taxes. Anti-tax groups are licking their chops, and we can’t say we blame them.

U.S. domestic oil production and pipeline accessibility have improved greatly in recent years, and the law of supply and demand says gasoline prices simply should not remain this high. But they do, and taxes add to the pain.

It’s taking a while, but hybrid and electric appear to be the only way to go.