Subscribe

Why West Coast gas prices are different

Gas prices took a serious dip last year, but they've stayed relatively high on the West Coast. Here's why that's the case. 

  • close
    The sun appears above the Golden Gate Bridge during a break in the rain in Sausalito, California (Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016). Gas prices have remained high on the West Coast, despite a national drop.
    Eric Risberg/AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

U.S. gas prices plunged last year, and have remained at several-year lows through the first month of 2016.

But they're lower in some places than others.

Starting in January 2015, West Coast gas prices became unglued from the rest of the country--and they remain notably higher than in other regions.

Recommended: US energy in five maps (infographics)

So far this month, the West Coast is the only region with average gas prices above $2.00 per gallon, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) survey of weekly retail gas prices.

On January 11, U.S. average gas prices fell below $2.00 per gallon for the first time since 2009.

But different regions fell below this marker at different times--and the West Coast still hasn't gotten there.

Average prices in the Gulf Coast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADD) dropped below $2.00 in October, November, and December, respectively.

East Coast prices slipped below $2.00 on January 4.

But as of January 11, the average price of gasoline on the West Coast was $2.63 per gallon.

That may be partially due to transportation costs. The West Coast PADD includes Alaska and Hawaii, two states that are somewhat removed from the national refinery infrastructure.

Then there's California, where gas always tends to be more expensive than in other parts of the country.

California is known for high gas prices due to high local taxes and fees, as well as stricter regulations that require use of a lower-carbon gasoline blend, notes The Atlantic.

Only certain refineries produce this blend, tightening the supply for California drivers.

That supply became even more constrained after an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance last year.

The refinery was subsequently forced to operate at 20 percent capacity, which analysts believe has kept California gas prices high.

While West Coast drivers may not have received the full benefit, many consumers seem to have taken advantage of low gas prices last year.

Sales of SUVs increased as part of an overall boom in new-car sales.

This curtailed the steady gains in new-car average fuel economy that have occurred over the past few years.

This article first appeared at GreenCarReports.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK