If you think the price you are paying at the pump today is too high, what do you think will happen if there are even fewer oil companies providing your gasoline?
Consumer Watchdog has been working to stop the merger of BP and Tesoro in California — which would leave two gasoline refiners controlling more than 50% of the gasoline market. That type of consolidation is a recipe for even higher gasoline prices.
Recurring price surges are not freak phenomenons or the result of a convergence of refinery problems, as the oil industry has argued. It's happened before and will happen again and again because California oil companies can make more money by making less gasoline.
Over the last decade, Californians have consistently paid prices that are 10 to 20 cents a gallon higher than the rest of the nation, and we have lower inventories. The rest of the continental U.S. has about 24 days of gasoline on hand; California's average is 10 to 13 days. Not surprisingly, over the last 10 years, refineries on the West Coast consistently have been among the most profitable in the continental U.S.