Gov. Brown Asks Clean Air Board To Allow Early Switch To "Winter Blend" Gas In Attempt To Ease Gas Pump Prices


(Oct. 7, 2012) -- In an unusual Sunday action, Governor Jerry Brown today (Oct. 7) directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) "to immediately take whatever steps are necessary" to make an early switch to "winter-blend" gasoline (which usually isn't sold until after Oct. 31) in an effort to increase the state's gasoline supply and lower guel prices.

"Gas prices in California have risen to their highest levels ever, with unacceptable cost impacts on consumers and small businesses," said Governor Brown. "I am directing the Air Resources Board to immediately take whatever steps are necessary to allow an early transition to winter-blend gasoline."

Winter-blend gasoline evaporates more rapidly than summer-blend gasoline (which takes longer to evaporate and is better for air quality during the smog season.) "Allowing an early transition to winter-blend gasoline could increase California's fuel supply by up to an estimated 8-10 percent with only negligible air quality impacts," the Governor's office says in a release.

The Governor's office says CA gas prices have increased over the past week due to [Governor's office release] "a tightening of fuel supplies caused by shutdowns at Tesoro and Exxon refineries. The Exxon refinery came back online Friday and Tesoro is scheduled to resume production early next week. Combined, these actions are expected to stabilize and reduce fuel prices."

The text of the Governor's letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is below:

October 7, 2012

Mary Nichols, Chairman
California Air Resources Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95812

Chairman [sic] Nichols:

California is temporarily experiencing tight gasoline supplies that are causing dramatic spikes in the price consumers must pay to fuel their vehicles. Gas prices in the State have set new record highs, and gas is completely unavailable at some stations in southern California. If this situation continues, it may cause unacceptable price impacts for consumers and small businesses, significant economic disruption, and serious harm to public safety and welfare.

California refiners are required to produce a summer-blend gasoline through October in most areas of the State. After October 31, a winter-blend gasoline is allowed. Due to the composition of the gasoline, refiners can produce more of the winter-blend than the summer-blend.

In light of the tight gasoline supplies and resulting price spikes, we should not wait until the end of the month to start production of our winter-blend gasoline. Allowing refiners to make an early transition to winter-blend gasoline could quickly increase fuel supply and provide a much needed safety valve with negligible air quality impacts. Accordingly, I am directing that the Air Resources Board immediately take whatever steps are necessary to allow for an early transition to winter-blend gasoline to be manufactured, imported, distributed, and sold in California.

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

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