Are California drivers paying a hidden gas fee?

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There's a $1.60 difference between the average gas cost in California, $5.85 and the national average, $4.25.

At the pump, you'll see the state and federal taxes listed. But the reason why we are paying more in California is what you won't see on your receipt.

"It's a hidden cost for basically producing carbon," said Ryan Lansdowne, VP of J. C. Lansdowne. The fuel supplier based in Visalia says they are fees being collected by the state from refineries. He says they are classified as a greenhouse gas standard fee and a low carbon standard fee.
"And it gets passed down to the consumer directly from the refiner, supplier, to the gas station owner to the person and their tank," he said.

Customers end up paying 35 to 40 cents more for gas, and 45 to 50 cents more for diesel. You may remember an explosion at a refinery in Torrance in 2015.

Lansdowne says customers saw gas prices rise as a result and haven't seen them fall from that point since.

"So it's a hidden fee or tax charged to consumers, but they are not aware because it's not a line item when we go and buy fuel at the service station," he said.

Lansdowne says absorbing the cost is not an option.

"The fees are so large and so much, you would bankrupt some of these petroleum companies," he said.

In 2019, a letter from Governor Gavin Newsom to then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra asks for an investigation into why Californians are paying more than 30 cents per gallon in comparison to other states.

Severin Borenstein, Director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkley says the inability of state officials to come to a conclusion is costing California drivers billions.
"It's costing Californians about $4 billion a year," he said. "It seems that spending a few million dollars to figure it out would be a wise expenditure."

Republican Assemblyman Devon Mathis says he hears about the pain at the pump from constituents constantly.

"I have had a couple of people tell me that they are going to have to resign from their jobs because they cannot afford the commute," said the Assemblyman who represents Porterville.

California lawmakers continue to discuss a $400 credit intended to help relieve the prices that have surged since the conflict in Ukraine began.

"As republicans, we will support that but that's a drop in the bucket," he said.

Action News reached out to several state representatives to ask what they knew about these fees. In a statement, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson says he intends to find out how the fee came to be collected and why it is still being collected seven years after the refinery fire in Torrance.
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