|Motorists get gas at a Costco station in Sacramento, Calif. Fuel experts, economists and consumer advocates are expected to appear at a hearing of the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, to discuss why California gas prices are consistently higher than the national average. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)|
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state panel met Monday to investigate why California gas prices are significantly higher than the national average and whether state lawmakers can do anything about it.
Fuel experts, economists and consumer advocates are expected to appear at the meeting of the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, a panel appointed by the California Energy Commission, which is named by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The panel is studying possible policy changes to address the volatility in prices.
Oil prices have fallen dramatically in recent months, sending gas prices plummeting.
Still, drivers in California pay far more than the rest of the nation, partly because of higher taxes and higher fuel blend standards to meet the state's unique air-quality rules.
The website GasBuddy.com pegged California's average price for regular unleaded at $2.51 a gallon on Monday, 78 cents higher than the national average.
Committee Chairman Severin Borenstein has said taxes and cleaner-burning fuel do not account for the full difference.
Lawmakers last year held hearings on gas prices after one of the largest price swings in recent history.
State energy officials said two refineries that make up 17 percent of the state's processing capacity went offline after a plant explosion and a labor dispute, limiting supply and driving up prices.