The Los Angeles Times reported that the average gas price in Los Angeles County was $4.67 – close to a record set nine years ago. Orange County prices averaged $4.64.
American Automobile Association of Southern California spokesman Doug Shupe told the Times that the higher gas prices could be linked to higher crude oil costs and an intensified demand for fuel.
"We had really, really low demand during the pandemic, and then it just ramped up rapidly as more and more people became vaccinated," Shupe told the Times. "The desire to get out there and travel really picked up quickly."
Weather-related problems, such as rains that "inundated" California's oil refineries with water, also had a part in the price rise, AAA spokesman Jeffrey Spring told the Times.
AAA reported Tuesday that the national average for regular gas was $3.411. Mid-grade gas was averaging $3.760 and premium $4.035. Those prices are up more than almost $1.30 from this time last year.
Seven Western states — California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona — plus Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C., have the highest average prices ($3.616 to $4.687), according to AAA.
The record prices even have urged Democrats to call on President Joe Biden to act. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., pressed Biden to use emergency petroleum reserves to bring down prices heading into the holiday season.
"No industry is spared [the supply-chain issues], but gasoline is the worst of all," Schumer said at a Sunday press conference.
Analysts, however, have said that using the reserves would give only a short-term answer, The Hill reported.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Biden was "all over" the gas issue, but couldn't identify a policy to support that claim.
"The president is all over this," Granholm told CNN on Monday. "He really is very concerned about inflation, obviously, and the price of gasoline because that's the most obvious manifestation of it.
"And as you know, no president controls the price of gas. Oil is sold on a global market. It is, as we see — as everybody's coming out of COVID, there is a huge increase in demand. The supply has not caught up."
"It's not just the gas, it's everything," said Monica Oliva, 36, as she filled her bright orange sedan at the station.
Oliva said she and her family had been preparing to visit relatives in San Francisco for the holiday — part of an annual custom to travel during the days off — but chose to cancel after one too many mounting costs made the whole endeavor seem impossible.
"We saw all the prices increasing — it's crazy," she said. "Even the carne asada at the market is $25 to $36, so we were like, 'OK we have to change our plans to make [Thanksgiving] affordable.'"