California Gas Prices Draw Ire Of Consumer Advocates

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An advocacy group on Thursday blasted profit reports from California's oil refiners, saying there's a huge discrepancy between wholesale and retail prices of gasoline.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in the state is hovering around $2.70 — well above the $2.11 national average, according to the American Automobile Club.

But that shouldn't be the case because wholesale prices in California are so low, Consumer Watchdog said.

"If we have the lowest wholesale price for gasoline we should also have the lowest retail price for gasoline," said Jaime Court, founder of Consumer Watchdog. "The fact that we have the lowest wholesale price for gasoline and the highest retail price for gasoline means that oil refiners are ripping us off."

Except in October 2008, when the nation was struggling with the great recession, the gap between wholesale and retail market prices is the widest it has been.

"Usually, it's about 80 cents difference between the wholesale and the street price," said Cody Rosenfeld, a researcher for Consumer Watchdog. "But right now in California, we're charging $1.60 more per gallon of gasoline than the wholesale price. It's really unheard of. It's 70 cents more than the usual difference."

Consumer Watchdog is forwarding their findings to state officials who are investigating the gas marketplace.

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