California gas prices reached a five-year high on Wednesday with a state average of $4.12 per gallon and, according to the tech company GasBuddy’s fuel tracker, $4.15 per gallon on Thursday. This is nearly $1.50 above the national average.
USC students, especially those who have to commute, were indignant about having to pay over four dollars per gallon at the pump.
“I’m not a fan of it at all,” said Eli Assraf, a junior studying at Marshall School of Business, “I liked gas when it was at three bucks, but now it’s at four bucks.”
When asked if he would ever consider other methods of transportation, Assraf said, “No, in LA you have to drive.”
This echoed the sentiments of other USC students who commute or drive regularly.
“I have no choice but to drive,” said Zixin An, an MBA student, “my class starts at 8 a.m. and I live very far from here.”
Health and Human Sciences student Cheng Yan Wu has considered taking public transport in response to the added expense. “I’m thinking about taking the shuttle from Lorenzo or using other transportation or even an Uber,” said Wu.
Caylin Touchstone, who works in the Marshall School’s Vice Dean’s Office, said she has also considered going back to public transport. “I used to take public transportation with the metro pass and it definitely saved me gas and stress.”
Unplanned maintenance in four of California’s oil refineries are partly to blame for the recent surge in gas prices according to The Automobile Club of Southern California’s press release. That, coupled with planned maintenance has created more stress. The Chevron and Marathon facilities in Southern California are still determining the exact cause of the setbacks and little information has been released at this time, according to Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for AAA.
Another factor in the spike in oil prices is the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that happened last month. Shupe said that California refineries depend on Saudi Arabia for about 20 percent of their oil needs.
Some students have stronger views on what should be done. Dylan Strode, a sophomore who had interned at Lime Rock Partners, a company that invests in oil energy, said, “We should find a better way to utilize our own resources and not have to deal with the geopolitical issues that cause gas prices to rise.”
California residents have consistently paid the highest gas prices in the nation. In addition to having the highest gas tax and fees in the country, there are geographic and legal factors as well.
Patrick DeHaan, Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy, explained that, “there’s a lot of uniqueness” when it comes to California’s gas. California’s Air Resources Board requires a unique blend of gasoline that helps reduce air pollution. When California refineries are down, there’s no other state that produces the same type of gas to import.
“Aside from the West Coast...there are no pipelines that flow into California because of the nature of the Rocky Mountains,” said DeHaan. “California is an island of its own,” in terms of gas.
However, students who are frustrated with rising gas prices may be able to breathe a sigh of relief within the coming weeks.
“I would think that early next week or no later than by mid next week, prices should have plateaued and they will be coming back down again,” said DeHaan, “these breakdowns only last a period of a couple of weeks.”
Assraf said, “I hope it goes back down to three bucks, maybe $2.50.”