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U.S. California's surging gas prices spark call to suspend tax

Sep 29, 2023

California [US], September 29: The U.S. state of California is again witnessing gasoline prices soar to near record highs, sparking a call from the state's Republican lawmakers to suspend gas tax.
The average price of gas in California hit over 6.00 U.S. dollars per gallon on Thursday, compared to 3.84 dollars for the nation, which jumped more than 8 percent over last month.
California's average gasoline price on Thursday, 6.032 U.S. dollars per gallon, is up 75 cents from a month ago, according to data from the American Automobile Association.
Xinhua found this week the price for a regular gallon at a gas station in Los Angeles County was 6.89 U.S. dollars, while supreme and diesel cost 7.19 U.S. dollars and 7.29 U.S. dollars, respectively.
In a letter sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, a group of Republican lawmakers in the state urged Newsom to convene a special session of the legislature to temporarily suspend the state's gas tax.
"Drivers are spending more than 100 dollars each month just on gas. This elevated energy cost cuts into families' already strained budgets," said the letter. "Californians are paying 0.58 dollars per gallon to the state. Immediate relief is needed," it continued.
Legislative Republicans have tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to force a vote on suspending the gas tax because of the Democratic supermajority in the state Senate and Assembly.
California has long had a reputation as one of the nation's most expensive states for gas. Republican lawmakers say the reason is because "California is an energy island with isolated resources, which makes our state reliant on foreign imports if more domestic production is not allowed."
The governor believes big oil companies are to blame for price manipulation. He signed a new law in March to combat price gouging. An independent watchdog, the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight, has been set up under the California Energy Commission.
The new division sent a letter to the governor last Friday, raising questions about the gas price spike. The letter said the rising crude oil costs "do not fully explain the increase in everyday prices that Californians pay at the pump or the increasing differential from national average prices."
Recent data showed that refiners this summer "did not maintain adequate levels" of gasoline or did not import enough fuel "to sufficiently backfill production shortfalls," according to the letter.
Newsom on Wednesday evening directed the California Energy Commission to evaluate a potential gas price gouging penalty and asked the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight to provide proposals on market reforms by the beginning of 2024, according to a report by the Sacramento Bee.
Source: Xinhua