Californians bear the financial brunt of skyrocketing gas prices


Shreya Jagannathan

Gas prices in California skyrocket amidst global geopolitical conflict, causing discontent among young people.

As gas prices soar above $6 a gallon in the San Ramon Valley area, San Ramon residents and Californians statewide are perplexed by the cause of such outrageous prices. 

“There’s been a huge increase in prices because of the [Russo-Ukraine] war, which sucks for me because I drive a pretty demanding vehicle in terms of gas,” Yashwanth Ravipati, a senior at Dougherty Valley High School said. 

While many believe that high gas prices are a result the US’s inability to purchase oil from Russia, Russian oil only makes up around 90,000 of the almost 20 million barrels of oil the US imports daily.  

Although the Biden Administration passed an executive order banning the import of Russian oil to the United States, the more consequential action was the passage of two bills on April 8 placing further sanctions on Russian natural gas and oil. As a result, ex-buyers of Russian oil were forced to buy oil from the leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries: Saudi Arabia. The sanctions on Russian oil imports have decreased the global supply of oil, especially from Saudi Arabia. The U.S. imports around 555,000 barrels of crude oil from Saudi Arabia each day, which it now has to do at the increased price. 

Like many young students, Ravipati feels discontent with the high gas prices.

Due to OPEC drastically increasing prices on oil, oil prices have been at its highest since the start of the pandemic. According to a New York Times investigation, gas prices in the United States were up 17% since early March. While gas prices have been skyrocketing across the United States, California has notably been hit the hardest. According to AAA, an automobile insurance provider, “In Mono County in California, the typical cost of gas has jumped above $6, with the average price at the pump now at $6.02.”

Like many young students, Ravipati feels discontent with the high gas prices. 

“Especially since I’m a high school student, [high gas prices] have been even harder on me because I don’t have a super high budget and it’s really requiring me to hold back on my spending on things like food,” Ravipati said. 

In light of all the disapproval towards high gas prices, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed a bill on March 8 compensating Californians through an $11 billion relief package, part of which directly pads the pockets of everyday commuters through a direct payment of $400 per vehicle per Californian.

The package also includes major investments into public transportation to provide Californians an alternative to gas-powered personal vehicles, including $750 million towards transit and rail agencies to provide free transit for Californians for three months. 

“As a result, roughly 3 million Californians per day who take the bus, subway, or light rail won’t have to pay a fare every time they ride,” the Office writes.

The BART and public bus system that San Ramon residents take advantage are included in the recipients of this spending proposal.  

Many San Ramon residents can also rejoice in the inclusion of a $1.75 billion spending clause for the construction of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. Roadtrips in your brand-new Tesla just got that much easier. 

There is much uncertainty surrounding when or even if gas prices will return to pre-February levels. Until then, Californians and Americans nationwide will likely continue transitioning to public transit, purchasing electric vehicles, or facing the economic consequences of the geopolitical conflict in Ukraine.