California speeds up switch to a Cheaper Fuel Blend


Adam Quintero

Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, gas prices began to soar, with a national average of around $4.33 back in March of 2022. Now eight months later, most states are back to normal while California hasn’t really seen a significant decrease in gas prices. With states like Colorado and Connecticut averaging around $3.50 a gallon, our average gas price is around $6.38 a gallon. Governor Gavin Newsom plans to change that by speeding up the annual switch to a cheaper fuel blend.

California has a seasonal switch of fuel blends every year, varying from a Summer Blend starting May 1st to a Winter Blend on November 1st. According to AAA Living, the difference between the two is that the winter blend contains a higher Reid vapor pressure than the summer blend in order to evaporate gasoline properly in colder temperatures, compared to the summer blend which has a lower RVP for warmer weather. The RVP is important because if it isn’t evaporated properly, the gasoline is wasted.

According to The Sacramento Bee, switching to the winter blend early could bring gas prices down about $1 in the month. Senior Abraham Oceguera-Desales shares, “Switching and making the gas cheaper would be good because I’ve paid prices up to $8 a gallon here in Riverside and in Los Angeles”. One of the biggest reasons for high gas prices is the shortage of finished gasoline. According to Reuters, many oil refineries like Lyondell in California had to slow down production or even shut down with the price increases in crude oil barrels. 

According to The Washington Post, we’ve seen five oil refineries shut down since 2020, which takes about 1 million barrels a day off the market forcing other refineries to work even harder and prices to rise higher. 

Gov. Newsom also introduced a Windfall Profit Tax on oil companies. Jamie Court of the Consumer Watchdogs believes these companies are setting high prices simply “because they can”, with these companies knowing residents will pay these prices anyways. This tax would regulate these oil companies to lower their prices. Gov. Newsom plans to use a form of refund by the taxes on the companies going back to the taxpayers, imposing a  21% tax on excess profits. This tax is still currently under review and will be decided in December.

Environmentalists like Bill Magavern believe the early switch to winter blend fuel would be bad for the air. Butane is often mixed with winter blend fuel to achieve a higher RVP and the winter blend evaporates quickly in warmer temperatures, contributing to more pollution in the air. Oceguera-Desales also shares “A lot of people don’t even care about the environment, they care more about saving money”. Starting the early switch in October instead of November 1st, can still cause smog due to the warmer weather here in California. 

With the rise in inflation, many residents cannot afford to keep up with the economy. Switching to winter blend fuel can help consumers who cannot afford to pay such high prices, even students who have to travel distances for work or personal reasons. History and Economics teacher Mr. Saucedo says, “When gas goes down, people have more money to spend on other necessities instead of gas on a regular basis”. Higher gas prices do affect everyone, even trucking and airline companies. With a higher price to pay, trucking and airline companies will not be able to complete deliveries if they cannot afford gas for their transportation. This will result in shortages and continue to raise inflation. 

Back in June of this year, President Biden called on Congress to suspend the gas tax for 3 months to help working families struggling during this time. Now, Reform California wants to repeal the gas taxes placed without a proper public vote, aiming to help working families. 

This gasoline debate has sparked a great argument about helping residents save money or saving the environment.