‘Insane’ fuel prices shock Bay Area drivers used to paying more

SAN MATEO — The price for a gallon of regular is creeping toward $8 at one station on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto.

Now Gov. Newsom is taking action to bring gasoline prices back down to earth by directly contradicting one of his own climate-protection policies.

In a video posted to Twitter Newsom said oil companies need to explain why California drivers pay so much more for fuel than the rest of the nation.

Company representatives responded by pointing to California’s own strictest-in-the-nation regulations.

“They’re ripping you off!” the governor said. “Their record profits are coming at your expense.”

Peninsula drivers who were caught by surprise by the sudden spike told KPIX Friday they welcome any help they can get.

“It’s a rapid change — I didn’t expect it to go up that high, that quickly,” said Kurt Perez, from San Mateo.

Drivers from out of state are shocked by what they see here.

“These prices are outrageous! This is insane right now,” said Kevin Kotwica from Washington state.

At least some relief could be on the way after the governor announced refineries will be allowed to sell a cheaper but more-polluting “winter blend” gasoline ahead of schedule.

Some experts say the switch could save drivers up to 20 cents per gallon but others caution it will take time.

“Prices at the pump aren’t going to come off tomorrow but they’ll come off rapidly,” said Dave Hackett  with Stillwater Associates.

Drivers acknowledge they have no choice but to reduce their time on the road until prices fall again.

The governor is also calling on lawmakers to pass a new windfall profit tax on oil companies but the legislature is in recess until January. Republicans say state leaders could have done more — more quickly — by suspending the gas tax.

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