California repeatedly warned about spiking gas prices, fragile supply. But fixes never came.
For its fourth year in a row, California has had the dubious honor of ranking as the least effective state in the country in managing its gasoline supply. When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) ordered his state to temporarily shut down the state’s gas-rationing program in December, he had one month’s grace to do something about it. But after the program began to throttle back in January as prices spiked, Schwarzenegger followed the program’s lead and implemented a two-part plan that had nothing to do with price.
Rather, the governor simply declared an emergency that allows the state to sell extra gasoline. But the emergency that he declared was an imaginary one — with the state’s actual supply of gasoline sitting in storage on the sidelines. For more than two years, California has been operating under a program where the state’s gas stations have been allowed to ration their gasoline at levels far lower than the national average.
By the time the governor finally got around to the real problem, he made his emergency declaration an emergency that lasted four months. And the emergency, by the way, was fake.
When prices spiked in late December, California’s gas stations started selling less gasoline in order to meet the state’s gas rationing plan. When the state’s supply ran out, California’s gas stations had the choice of either increasing the price of gasoline they’d been selling or raising the gas rationing levels.
It was only after this four-month delay that the state’s stations finally implemented price hikes. The result: Higher prices that left many people in California with a painful choice of paying higher prices for gas and/or buying fewer gallons of gasoline from local stations.
As a result, California prices this winter have jumped to the highest levels in the country.
But the governor and his Republican allies in the Legislature didn’t let this crisis go to waste. Instead, California�