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Governor Orders Switch To Winter Gas To Dampen Price Spike

The governor ordered the California Air Resources Board to allow refiners and gas stations to roll out the winter blend before its previously—scheduled Oct. 31.

Gov. Jerry Brown Sunday ordered California smog regulators to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California this month, a move intended to reverse a sudden scare in the wholesale gasoline market that saw prices shoot up nearly 50 cents a gallon in six days.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County climbed 3.8 cents overnight to settle at $4.712, a record high for a second day, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. The previous local record of $4.63 was set June 19, 2008.

The governor ordered the California Air Resources Board to allow refiners and gas stations to roll out the winter blend before its previously- scheduled Oct. 31 sales date, an action the governor said will increase gas supplies up to 8-10 percent, "with only negligible air quality impacts."

In a letter released at noon Sunday, as California gas prices fluctuated widely for the seventh straight day, the governor said the market variations were imposing "unacceptable cost impacts on consumers and small businesses." This, he said, was threatening "significant economic disruption, and serious harm to public safety and welfare."

The average price in San Diego County has gone up 55.8 cents over the past week, which included a jump of 19.5 cents on Friday, according to the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is now 55.4 cents higher than a month ago and 91.3 cents more than a year ago.

An analyst said California's wholesale gasoline market has gone "into a panic about the adequacy of California fuel supplies," Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California said the market disruption followed a power failure at the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery and closure of a Chevron pipeline that moves crude oil to Northern California last Monday.

Other pressure on the state's gas market includes local refineries dropping production levels, energy companies exporting fuel to Mexico and other countries, and allowing inventory to dwindle in anticipation of switching over to production of winter blend gasoline, Spring said.

"I am directing the Air Resources Board immediately to take whatever steps are necessary to allow for an early  transition to winter-blend gasoline" to be sold in California, the governor said in a letter to Mary Nichols, his appointed head of the CARB.

Some clean air advocates had worried that such a move would hurt air quality in October, which is one of the hottest months in coastal California due to Santa Ana windstorms and other seasonal weather fluctuations.

The governor said today that winter gas evaporates more quickly than summer blend, which takes longer to evaporate and is better during the smoggiest months of the year in the summer.

Brown said he expected gas prices to settle down, now that the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance has resumed operations following an electricity outage last week. A Tesoro refinery in the San Pedro area is expected to resume production next week, after its maintenance shutdown.

-City News Service

Tom Yarnall October 09, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Yes,Joe I do remember. I, also, remember in 1973 gas being around 40C per gallon even during the Opec boycott. I, also remember Jimmy Carter initiating the Energy Department with the objective of developing a strategy to eliminate the need for Opec oil. That has worker very well hasn't it? We now have an entity of thousands of people costing billions of taxpayer dollars who have done, and continue to do nothing of consequence.. We have plenty of reserves, esp. natural gas that burns efficiently in internal combustion engines. If only the Obama federalist and tree humpers would get out of the way.
Alissa Brennan October 09, 2012 at 05:08 AM
lol obamas fault! Ya ok. Most republicans are RICh from oil.
Whisky Foxtrot October 09, 2012 at 05:50 AM
It's really not the President, the Governor, or even the oil companies themselves that are to blame. It is the broken oil market system that allows for speculation from folks that won't actually be taking delivery of any oil/gas. Read that this was caused by a panic in the wholesale market, not necessarily big oil execs deciding to raise prices on a given day (not that I would put that past them).
Libi Uremovic October 09, 2012 at 11:03 AM
carters' energy program worked just fine...it cut the country's dependence on foreign oil in half... ...reagan cut the program an doubled the country's dependence in oil.... think what a different country we would live in today if we hadn't sold out our country 30 years ago... the reason politicians get away with corruption is because people follow blindly ...you tom yarnall....you follow the people that cause the problems and their only solution is to blame it on someone else...and you believe them, don't you tom...... cali has wind, sun, and sea ....we could have developed alternative energy resources years ago...but we have a political party that screams in rage at the thought of not being dependent on oil... ...and we have the other political party that says 'o'well, what can we do'... but it's not that the political parties are working together is it tom...no that's not it...your political party is good, their political party is bad....that's how it is in your head, isn't it tom...
Tom Yarnall October 09, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Libi, so Carter cut dependence on foreign oil by 50% and Reagan increased it by 100%? This sounds like an accounting trick you bean counters use to fudge the books. I'll just bet you are good at that. The dependence on foreign oil has not changed that much under any president, starting in the 1970's. Before that our dependence was about 10%. Consumpion has driven it up to where we now need 45-50%.If we use 20 million barrels a day but only produce 10 the remainder has to come from somewhere else. Your diatribe is not becoming. Just do as Obama tells you and we'll all go to hell together.

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