California repeatedly warned about spiking gas prices, fragile supply. But fixes never came, and the problem spread beyond California.
The state suffered its first big gasoline shortage in 2014, when motorists across the state were forced to wait an astonishingly long time for fuel at the pumps. At the California Energy Commission’s monthly briefing on Wednesday, the agency said the delay cost the state nearly $300 million in lost business and consumer pain, and said it’s “a very real issue.”
“If this affects even one day of the daily flow of gas at the pump, and it’s causing that to become very, very long and then to extend it and extend that time, that is a significant problem,” said Craig Sjolund, energy and environmental policy manager for the California Energy Commission, “and it’s something we need to get to the point where we can better manage our market.”
But while California’s gasoline supply and demand is often inextricably tied, the energy officials are only starting to take the latest data into account. And to California’s frustration, the state government has been slow to act on the crisis.
“I personally think it’s more of an issue that affects the rest of the state,” said state Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (D-Arroyo Grande) of the long lines at the pumps. “In my opinion, it’s time for our state to catch up. And when I say catch up, I don’t just mean in terms of the gas market.”
[State Energy Commission releases monthly briefing on the California gas shortage in May]
The California Department of Water Resources said on Wednesday that it is planning to send an additional 50,000 barrels of high-sulfur diesel fuel from refineries in the San Joaquin Valley to the state. The move is one of the most aggressive steps yet taken by the state — but it’s largely symbolic and unlikely to help the situation outside of California.
The diesel fuel, which is used to run trucks, is necessary to maintain supplies, the department said