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High gas prices could remain for the rest of the year

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gasoline is now $4.48. AAA states California, Washington, and Oregon is part of the nation's top 10 expensive markets.

For drivers like Jesus Tavarez, filling up is becoming frequent.

"It has to be like every other two or three days," said Tavarez. "I pump every day for my gas car, but my personal car, it's like every two or three days."

Tavarez told KION that he goes to the Pilot Gas Station because it's one of the cheapest options. Tavarez said he wants to see more help for people.

"I think just increase the wages because everything is going up," said Tavarez. "Not only gas but food, everything is going up."

Professor Brad Barbeau, an Economic and Entrepreneurship Professor at CSU Monterey Bay, said there are two driving forces behind the gas price. One is the increase in demand as more people are going out, and the other still includes the Russia Ukraine conflict and the sanctions that are in place against Russia.

"The bigger impact is the conflict being Russia and Ukraine," said Barbeau.

"The Russian invasion and that countries around the world have sanctioned Russia. So Russian oil supplies have been shut off to the rest of the world."

While the U.S. doesn't heavily rely on Russia for its oil supply, the sanctions impact the world oil supply.

The California gas tax is 51 cents, but starting July 1, people can expect to pay more at the pump.

A report by AAA shows almost every state is above $4.00 a gallon. California is one of the top 10 most expensive markets; right now, the average gallon of gas in the golden state is $6.02.

Kevin Slagle with the Western States Petroleum Association told KION oil
companies are trying to move towards more production.

"We need more permits," said Slagle. "We need a regulatory environment that encourages our ability to produce more crude oil here it the state."

Barbeau said the U.S. is rushing to bring production back online, but it takes time for oil companies to get going. He said oil production wouldn't come online at least for a couple of months.

"To increase oil production, you've got to bring back into production fields that have been capped," said Barbeau. "It's not like turning on a hose."

Barbeau predicts that gas prices could remain high for the rest of the year, especially as the conflict continues.

AAA predicts almost 35 million people will be hitting the road for the Memorial Day weekend despite the high gas prices.

KION reached out to both Assemblymember Rivas and Representative Panetta's
office for comment on the rising gas prices & is working on scheduling an interview with both central coast leaders on how they're trying to help ease the gas prices for people.

But Assemblymember Rivas sent this statement:

"Spiking gas prices hurt all California residents, particularly those in disadvantaged and rural communities. Again, I am committed to proactively working with federal officials, the Governor, and my colleagues in the state legislature to institute solutions that guarantee residents receive the help they need as directly and quickly as possible.

Ultimately, as we work to alleviate the current crisis, California must also lead the way to ensure this never happens again by investing in alternative energy sources and transportation services to reduce our long-term reliance on fossil fuels, which will be a significant win for both consumers and the planet."

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Ana Torrea

Weekend Anchor/Reporter for KION News Channel 5/46

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