It’s like the begging of a disaster film: Gas prices soar… leading to long lines, angry customers and tough decisions.
But this isn’t a distant dystopia.
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This is California today, where gas prices recently jumped to nearly double what motorists pay just two states over in Texas.
Now, the state is looking for answers… and scapegoats.
“There is no identifiable evidence to justify these premium prices,” Gov. Gavin Newsom griped in a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra demanding an investigation. “If oil companies are engaging in false advertising or price-fixing, then legal action should be taken to protect the public.”
But there is “identifiable evidence” readily available to every Californian, and it’s not an oil company.
It’s sitting in the governor’s office and state legislature, where tax-and-spend liberals enjoy supermajorities giving them unchecked power over a shrinking number of Republican lawmakers.
They can’t – or rather won’t – blame themselves.
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So they’re blaming the oil industry, a favorite scapegoat in the famously “green” state.
But if oil companies were truly to blame, the price hikes would be a nationwide problem.
Instead, the national average right now is $2.62 per gallon, according to the latest figures from AAA, versus a California average of $4.14 per gallon, or 60 percent more.
And in some parts of the state, the prices are even higher.
Ever fancy a drive through the famous vineyards of Napa Valley?
It’ll cost you… and not just for the price of the wine. Gas in Napa is now over $4.20 a gallon.
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Would you like the see the famous mountains of the Eastern Sierra?
That’ll cost even more. The average price in Mono County, nestled between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada border, is now hovering at just below $5 a gallon.
These prices are rapidly approaching and in some cases exceeding the all-time average high of $4.62 per gallon set in 2012 amid a series of hurricanes, refinery outages and escalating tensions in the Middle East.
But in this case, the prices aren’t rising due to hurricanes, refineries or the ever-present tensions in the Middle East.
It’s because of taxes, fees, and out-of-control spending.
California has the highest gas taxes in the nation, and it’s still rising.
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The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 added 12 cents to each gallon that year and another 5.6 cents per gallon that kicked in over the past summer, bringing the total gas tax to a whopping 47.3 cents per gallon.
So far, that bill has brought in an extra $4 billion to state coffers, all paid for by hard-working motorists.
Throw in the state’s other surcharges, and Californians now pay 61 cents per gallon just in taxes and fees… well above every other state.
Only two – Illinois and Pennsylvania – even top 50 cents per gallon.
And it doesn’t end there.
California also has stricter fuel standards, which oil refiners say adds roughly 50 cents per gallon… meaning more than a quarter of the state’s gas price is due to a mix of over-regulation and over-taxation.
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Newsom claims there is a “mystery surcharge” tacked onto the gas bill in the state – a price difference not explained by all those taxes, fees and regulations.
But critics say he’s just looking to save face and cover up the real problem.
“Newsom is using this phony investigation to draw attention away from his own fraud on gas prices – namely the raids he ordered on our gas revenues that shift money from road repairs to his pet projects, and Californians must hold him accountable,” Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio said in a statement.
If the high price of gas isn’t enough, California also has some of the highest DMV fees in the nation – and the same bill that increased the price of gas also raised the price of vehicle registration to as much as $175 per year.
And now, the state’s taxpayers will be on the hook for another sum: the cost of Newsom’s investigation.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.”