On Monday the average price for regular unleaded gas in California hit an unprecedented mark, $4.668, according to AAA and Yahoo News. This is the 3rd straight day that California gas prices have exceeded the previous record mark.
As a result, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has urged the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC) to investigate in an effort to protect residents from "malicious trading schemes."
In a letter addressed to the FTC the senator asked the federal agency to determine if the price spike was caused by an illegal manipulation of the market and also besieged its officials to start monitoring the relevant market for fraud, manipulation, or other malicious trading practices.
"Publicly available data appears to confirm that market fundamentals are not to blame for rising gas prices in California," wrote Feinstein.
Feinstein went on to say that although most believe that the spike in gas prices was likely caused by a power outage at a Southern California refinery that reduced supply in an already fragile and volatile market, state data shows gas production last week was "almost as high as a year ago, and stockpiles of gasoline and blending components combined were equal to this time last year."
The refinery came back online Friday.
In many locations throughout the state automobile owners paid well over $5 a gallon for gasoline and other gas station owners were forced to shut down their pumps. Additionally, I drove past a 76 station yesterday that charged $5.39/gallon for unleaded regular gas.
Moreover, a gas station in Long Beach had California's most expensive gas at $6.65/gallon for unleaded regular gasoline, according to GasBuddy.com.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the average price could peak as high as $4.85 before coming back down.
Furthermore, On Sunday Governor Jerry Brown ordered state smog regulators to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California, which typically isn't sold until November 1.
It is unclear as to whether the FTC will take action in response to Senator Feinstein's letter, as spokespeople for the FTC failed to return calls requesting comments on the situation.
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