Gas prices spiked to $5.39 a gallon in Los Angeles this summer.
It’s no secret Californians pay some of the highest gas prices in the nation. And even though consumers and the economy have just gotten over last year’s historic gas prices, another spike seems to be knocking on our door. For more than 20 years I have focused on creating efficient energy markets – ranging from helping the prosecution of Enron executives to working on market manipulation issues across the U.S. and Canada. Over the past 18 months California gasoline prices have spiked repeatedly – with little relationship to world oil prices, or supply and demand.
Major oil companies are quick to point the finger at things that are out of their control. Unrest in far-off governments or unexpected refinery shutdowns are common scapegoats. Environmental regulations that keep them from polluting the air and water, for example, are also common themes. The truth of it though, these are just convenient excuses that hide other, potentially sinister, reasons.
Summer is under way, with its barbecues, parades, beach trips – and higher gas prices. And Angelenos recently found themselves paying a dizzying 11 cents more for every gallon – in an area that already ranks among the top five in the nation for high gas prices.
As a business owner who operates an all-natural gas fleet, we will avoid the fluctuations of summer gas prices, but our customers will feel the impacts.
Meanwhile, with $44 billion in profits last year, the oil companies’ grip on the industry affects our personal savings and business operations, and the nation’s economy. To be sure, gas prices rise and fall for many reasons, but one dangerous constant is that here in California, in particular, large oil companies are increasingly consolidated, reducing competition and generating concerns that consumers have ever-fewer defenses.