Gas prices on the rise, helped by a 'mystery surcharge'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gas prices in California have gone from bad to worse.

Here in the Bay Area gas is selling for more than $4 a gallon in many places.

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Part of that includes fees and state and local taxes, but there's also a mystery surcharge that even the top figure in state government doesn't know about.

California hasn't paid this much for gas since 2014, and it is not triggering nostalgia in anyone.

"I probably do 200 miles in three days so it's painful," said real estate agent Tracey Fletcher.

Keshia Banks of Oakland is "angry and frustrated because the cost of living is really high and it's just really hard."

Ali is drives a lovingly restored '63 Chevy van. It only takes premium gas and mileage is not a strong suit. But not driving is not an option.

"There's always going to be a demand in the Bay Area where you have to live further out from your work and you have to commute and sometimes BART is not an option for you" he says.

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UC Berkeley energy expert Severin Borenstein says gas prices here often rise and fall based on production at refineries that produce California's special blend, like the Valero refinery in Benicia.

There are also taxes and fees, but that doesn't completely explain why our prices are so high.

"When you add all those together you would expect our gas to be sixty to seventy cents higher than the rest of the country, but as of this morning we were a dollar twenty cents higher" he says.

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Borenstein attributes some of that to what he calls a "mystery surcharge" - an extra thirty cents a gallon that appears to go to gas producers.

No one is sure which companies are receiving the money.

When ABC7 News asked Governor Gavin Newsom about it he wasn't aware there was such a thing.

"I'm not sure which mystery... I'd have to understand or look at the details" he says.

Borenstein made the discovery while he was chairman of the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee of the California Energy Commission.

Since then, lawmakers have asked California's Attorney General to look into the extra charge and the $4 billion a year it generates.

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