California repeatedly warned about spiking gas prices, fragile supply. But fixes never came
California is facing a historic drought, but officials have had little control over prices.
The Golden State’s political leaders have been in a heated debate over the state’s worsening climate for several months, with Gov. Jerry Brown blaming environmental policies and a sharp drop in oil prices for causing drivers to pay twice as much for gasoline as they did 20 years ago.
Brown has promised to cut gasoline prices by more than $1 a gallon for the first time by July, and he is planning hearings on the issue in Sacramento today. But for the most part, he’s been powerless to affect prices.
California’s major oil companies have been the main force driving up prices. And California has a history of fighting off efforts to curb fuel shortages or ease regulations that have the potential to increase prices.
In a 2011 article published in the Sacramento Bee, environmental reporter John King detailed state efforts to build a pipeline to remove a huge amount of oil from underground and transport it to Southern California.
“The state has been involved in two major attempts in the past two decades to expand oil transport through pipelines. The first was the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from the North Slope of Alaska to Valdez, Alaska, and the second was the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil sands in Alberta to Steele City in Kansas,” wrote King.
The state’s oil industry is fighting any attempt to expand oil transport through pipelines, arguing that it would jeopardize their profits by limiting drilling and fracking. A bill introduced in the California State Legislature this month is aimed at addressing these problems, but the bill would only affect new pipelines and not any existing ones.
And California’s state government has become one of many in the nation to grapple with the effects of spiking gas prices. The California Public Utilities Commission proposed a rule in July aimed at making fuel shortages more expensive, to the dismay of some business groups that have long sought more controls on fuel prices.
But with that proposal, the Commission said it would keep fuel supplies stable in the long term, and any increases in prices would have “unintended consequences on consumer and business choices