It’s time to exhale with gas price dip;

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Last month’s record was 19 cents higher

The San Diego Union-Tribune

This is how San Diegans now spell relief: $3.31.

That was the average price per gallon yesterday for regular gasoline in the county, down 6 cents over the past week and down 19 cents from last month’s all-time high, according to the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, a local advocacy group.

Prices are now even lower than last year at this time, when the regional average for regular gasoline was $3.38 per gallon.

While welcoming the lower prices, one consumer advocate said there was no reason to celebrate.

“The fact that we can consider a sigh of relief (at current prices) is a testament to the oil industry’s ability to make us believe in a new normal for gasoline prices,” said Judy Dugan, research director of, a project of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica.

Dugan added that with crude-oil prices rising, gas prices could soon begin rising, too. She noted that California motorists are still paying about 20 cents more per gallon than the national average.

Tupper Hull, a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, said declining prices probably reflect an increase in refinery production and inventories across the state.

“Production is coming back to more normal ranges,” Hull said.

The petroleum trade group argues that gasoline prices are the result of a competitive market, subject to the laws of supply and demand.

The most recent data from the California Energy Commission indicate that the state’s refinery output is increasing but is still below its levels of a year ago. Gasoline inventories have also been rising, however, and are about 11 percent above levels last year at this time.

As prices rose this spring, the Energy Information Administration noted that the nation suffered an unusual number of planned and unplanned refinery outages, reducing the supply of gasoline.

Consumer Watchdog
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