Gas Prices Reach Record Highs at the Pump Station


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

Filling up has been a budget-buster just about everywhere lately, but before you start complaining, make sure you're not talking to Californians. When it comes to who feels the most pain at the pump, that's a dubious honor they'll almost always win. 

As of Tuesday, the national average for a gallon of gas was $4.52. In California, it was a staggering $6.02 — the very first time it hit above the $6 mark, making it the most expensive in the nation. 

But why?

Several factors are at play, but one of the biggest is that California's emissions standards are the most stringent in the nation. The state mandates the use of a special reformulated gas that burns cleaner, causing less pollution. So while that's undoubtedly good for the state's famously smoggy air, it also means California has limited suppliers.

Another big issue: Geography. California has its own refineries, but they provide just enough fuel to meet statewide demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Any issues, and "prices can increase substantially" — and it takes quite awhile for Gulf Coast or foreign refineries to help fill in the gaps thanks to California's West Coast location. Experts think there is probably some sort of production issue going on right now that is helping keep California's gas prices so high even as they drop elsewhere. 

Cheapism in the News