SACRAMENTO, CA - The pain at the pump rose sharply over the past week, 50 cents in a matter of days.
In response, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered state regulator's to ease prices and the California Air Resources Board stepped up.
The board decided to release a dirtier blend, or "Winter Blend", gasoline three weeks earlier; the last time California did this was in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused nationwide supply disruptions.
The record high prices shows it will cost Californians an average of $4.67 for a gallon of regular unleaded, more than 80 cents higher than the national average.
The release of the winter blend means relief is on the way, but how soon?
If the gas in your tank can last you another week, there are signs you may be spared some of the pain at the pump. In the meantime, customers are watching the developments closely.
Aniko Kiezel said she is not completely filling up, "No way, $10 at a time, $10 at a time."
It's a strategy that could pay off for Kiezel.
Now that Brown has authorized the sale of winter blend gasoline, wholesale prices are dropping as much as 60 cents per gallon in some markets.
"We've seen an immediate price reaction because the market knows the refiners can produce more gasoline," California Energy Commission's Gordon Schremp said. "Now we expect wholesale prices at the distribution terminals to continue to fall, and retail prices are almost at their peak."
Energy experts predict retail prices could fall as much as they rose within a week. Until then, drivers like Linda Moore are filling up a little at a time.
"I just try to make it day by day and hope I can survive," Moore said.
"They will be coming down, but they may not be coming down as rapidly as everyone wants," Schremp added.
Customers aren't the only ones suspicious of the recent spike in gas prices. On Monday, Sen. Barbara Boxer asked the Justice Department to investigate whether something other than supply and demand played a role in the record prices.
By Gabriel Roxas, firstname.lastname@example.org
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