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Auburn feels the sting of the squeeze at the pump

California gas prices dwarf national average
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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On Thursday, Rhonda Wood and her daughter pulled up to the pumps at Gas & Shop on Lincoln Way in Auburn, but they weren't there to fill up.

"Halfway is my limit," Wood said.

Like many others, Wood said she watches the price of regular grade gas daily to see where she can get it for the lowest price in Auburn.

On Thursday, that happened to be Gas & Stop at Lincoln Way and Foresthill Road, where regular grade gas was $4.21 per gallon. According to www.SactoGasPrices.com, that was the lowest price per gallon in the area as of Thursday.

"It's horrible. With the economy the way it is, we're barely able to make ends meet and you're working to pay for your gas, basically," Wood said. "I work over at the bowling alley and my tips are what pay for my gas."

In the past month, the average price for a gallon of gas in California has gone from $4.12 to $4.50, which was the average price for gas throughout the state as of Thursday, according to Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with www.GasBuddy.com.

Laskoski said gas prices are dropping, if only slightly. Last week the average price for regular grade gas in California was $4.63. The national average price for a gallon of regular grade gas on Thursday was $3.72.

"Problems have escalated because California is truly an island unto itself when it has gasoline supply problems because it can't go to neighboring states to ask for help because the fuel California sells is not produced or sold in those states, which creates a lot of scrambling in Sacramento," Laskoski said.

Supply issues were furthered in early August when a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond caught fire and shut down along with several other refineries that suffered maintenance problems, according to Laskoski. In early October, gas prices in California jumped by 20 to 50 cents overnight in some areas, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to allow winter-blend gas to be sold in California.

Winter-blend gas was not set to be sold until Oct. 31. Laskoski said California's air quality requirements regarding gasoline exceed federal standards.

"Because of that criteria it isn't produced anywhere other than California and only by California refineries," Laskoski said. "The Legislature, the governor, California voters at some point are going to have to determine where the tipping point is and where safeguards should be implemented so these refineries can automatically make a decision so they don't have to wait for the mercy of the governor."

Though gas prices in Auburn and surrounding areas reflect a downward trend, Wes Carpenter, of Grass Valley, was still irked by how much it cost him to fill up on regular gas on Thursday, even at Gas & Shop.

"Gas prices suck," Carpenter said. "Something has got to be done. We can't have prices continue to increase while these companies continue to make millions and billions of dollars while we're all stuck."

As of Thursday, the most expensive gas in Auburn was recorded at the Chevron at 10021 Combie Road near Highway 49 where regular gas was $4.59 per gallon, according to www.SactoGasPrices.com.

Other gas prices ranged from $4.27 per gallon at Flyers on Bowman Road to Beacon on Lincoln Way where regular grade was $4.47 on Thursday.

Despite the groans of those filling up in Auburn, Jenean Pomeroy, who was visiting Foresthill from the Bay Area on Thursday, filled up her tank at ARCO on Lincoln Way for $4.29 per gallon. She said she pays much more at home.

"That's why I'm filling up here," Pomeroy said. "I usually make my husband go because it's so depressing."

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.