Gas prices expected to decline with switch to winter-blend
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2012 20:10
Students feeling pain at the pump and in their wallets as California gas prices have soared to all-time highs in early October may feel relief soon.
The price surge in Southern California is thought to be caused by a limited gas supply brought about by a refinery fire, electricity interruption, pipeline contamination and the planned shutdown of several refineries and pipelines, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
Gov. Jerry Brown attempted to combat these high prices by directing the CARB to allow oil companies to start selling winter-blend gas a few weeks before its original Oct. 31 release date.
Even though the winter-blend is cheaper to produce, the new gas will be less environmentally friendly, according to David Pepper, a Cal State Long Beach physical geography and climatology lecturer.
Pepper said that when gas evaporates, it emits volatile organic compounds into the air.
Winter-blend gas evaporates quicker into the air in warm weather than the summer blend, according to Pepper. Southern California’s unpredictable weather patterns make it difficult to determine the effects that this early release will have on air quality.
“With temperatures in the 90s, gas will evaporate very quickly,” Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the CARB, said.
California’s Santa Ana winds could bring a rise in temperatures, which would dramatically increase the evaporation rate, Pepper said.
“It is possible we could have another heat wave this month,” Pepper said. “Santa Ana winds may still occur. It’s a risk to take.”
The average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in California recently hit an all-time high of $4.67, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
James Barrios, a junior business management major, said the pricey gas rates make him think twice about driving as often.
“The gas prices have made me consider looking into making my schedule so that I have all my classes on only two days out of the week,” Barrios said. “That way I’ll save gas on the commute to school [next semester].”
Billy Buth, a senior finance major, said he is glad that the governor intervened.
“I’m curious to see if the switch to winter-blend will significantly impact gas prices,” Buth said. “Either way, I’m sure that Brown’s action is a step in the right direction.”
In a letter sent to the head of CARB, Brown said it is important to act quickly.
“If this situation continues, it may cause unacceptable price impacts for consumers and small businesses, significant economic disruption and serious harm to public safety and welfare,” Brown said.
According to Clergen, the winter-blend gasoline should be released this week and prices should start dropping then.
“Additional supply should help bring down the cost [of gasoline],” Clegern said.