Californian lawmakers request investigation into gas surcharge

BERKELEY, Calif. -- More than a dozen California state lawmakers have called on the attorney general to investigate our gas prices after the discovery that we may be paying more than we should - a lot more.

"Welcome to California," Jesus Murillo of Fairfield, said.

According to AAA, the national average on Jan. 29 was $2.25, while California's is $3.25.

RELATED: Survey ranks California among worst states to drive in

A mystery surcharge of anywhere from 20 to 40 cents per gallon may be one reason behind the cost.

"I just want to know what's it for," China Crawford, a Vallejo resident said. "Where's it going? That's what I'd like to know."

Everyone else seems to want the answer to Crawford's question, too.

Somewhere between the refinery and the pump, the cost is added. U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business professor, Severin Borenstein, found the mystery while leading a committee formed by the California Energy Commission in 2014.

"It's not explained by the fact that we have higher taxes or a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases, or burning cleaner gasoline," Borenstein said. "So, that's the problem."

Borenstein's final report was released in 2017. He noticed the spike in gas prices after a California refinery explosion in 2015. They never really went back down after that. Since 2015, Borenstein said the mystery surcharge has cost Californians anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion a year.

That staggering number is getting the attention of lawmakers.

"We really want to see the attorney general's office to investigate this surcharge, get to the bottom of what is causing this and hopefully find a solution," Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer Kahan said.

More than a dozen lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Justice on Monday. At last check, they had not received a response.
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