Wondering why you can't seem to find a cheap gas station when driving around? Gas prices have just hit a nearly four year high in Southern California. Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court says the oil companies actually use refinery issues to cover for price jumps.
"California unfortunately has been an ATM for the oil industry and the oil refiners," said Court.
Court says the price increase has reached beyond the gas tax. Some are blend switch over and supply problems created by refinery issues.
"That's not related to a tax....That's related to gouging pure and simple because oil companies can do it. Their cost don't go up, but they charge us more. That's gouging."
Court says the price increases in California outpace increases elsewhere in the United States.
"People have studied it. We call it the 'Golden State Gouge.' When the refineries go down, the price at the pump goes way up and then, whenever we see those profits from refiners next quarter -- it shows that big gouge."
A fire at the Phillips 66 refinery in Carson and a maintenance breakdown at the Valero refinery in Wilmington have pinched the locally produced supply. Two other Southern California refineries have slowed production for maintenance issues.