With the official start of summer just weeks away, families are getting ready to pack up the car and hit the road, visiting places like our beautiful Orange County beaches and our world class theme parks.
It’s estimated that the average family spends 23 hours on summer road trips. But this year during their travels, families are being hit with some of the highest gas prices they’ve ever seen. In fact, Californians are paying the highest gas prices in the country. The average price for a gallon of gas in our state – about $6.40 – has gone up more than 30% in the last year.
In some places across Southern California, gas is more than $7 a gallon. After months of higher prices at the pump, you don’t need to read national news headlines to know that people are fed up.
Included in the $6.40 gallon of gas is nearly $1.20 in taxes and fees, 51 cents of which is the state’s gas tax. This year the state of California has a budget surplus of almost $100 billion, thanks to state Democrats having collected an extra $55 billion in taxes. Those dollars belong in your pocket, not Gov. Gavin Newsom’s.
Despite bipartisan calls in Congress for Newsom to suspend the tax, and state lawmakers’ opportunity to provide relief for California families, nothing has been done to alleviate these skyrocketing costs. Instead, in just a few weeks on July 1, the gas tax is going to increase to 54 cents a gallon. This is on top of record-high inflation, which is costing the average American household an extra $5,200 this year. It’s time to repeal the state gas tax entirely and begin providing relief to hard-working Californians.
Inflation is just another tax on every American, and in California we already pay some of the highest taxes in the entire country. Repealing this tax could save families up to $10 every time they visit a gas station. But this tax repeal, though helpful, would ultimately be a band aid on a much bigger issue.
The reality is that the United States and California could be strong leaders in the energy independence movement, but liberal policies are holding us back and American families are the ones paying the price. The U.S. is the largest oil producing country in the world, responsible for almost 20% of worldwide crude oil production.
We have the resources and the tools to produce our own supply. Instead, we’re reliant on markets run by dictators like Vladimir Putin and Nicolás Maduro. The United States cannot be a leader on the world stage while beholden to foreign dictators’ oil.
Major U.S. refineries are shutting down while the Biden Administration moves further away from oil and gas production, completely halting new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
40 years ago, California produced 61% of the oil that the state consumed. By 2019 that number had fallen by half, and now the state imports 37% of its oil from Saudi Arabia. We also receive major imports from Iraq. Shockingly, we produce less than 1% of the oil used within our state.
We have the resources right here at home to bring down costs and produce energy to supply our needs. President Biden and national Democrats have been leading the charge to close U.S. refineries by creating stricter regulations that are fueling the crisis we see today. California and the U.S. should use their state-of-the-art technology to be leaders in oil refining.
Unfortunately, the U.S. only has 18% of the world’s refineries, this hurts our economy in many ways, these are high skilled, high paying jobs that could be in California.
Democrats in Washington point to electric vehicles (EV) as the solution to these high prices, but the average price for an EV is more than $60,000. It’s insulting to suggest families spend more money to address these concerns. They don’t want another car; they want relief from record-high prices so they can put food on the table without worrying about their shrinking paychecks.
There is not one-size-fits-all solution to America’s energy needs. We need an all of the above energy policy to address the challenges that we face as a nation. That means wind, electric, solar, and yes – oil and gas.
Until we are truly energy independent, we will continue relying on these foreign countries and at the mercy of the global markets. Without realistic policies that address the current state of affairs at home and abroad, and embraces all forms of energy, there’s little relief in sight.
American families are tired of paying more and getting less, and this administration needs to drop its war on American energy so that they can have the security and stability they deserve.
Michelle Steel represents the 48th Congressional District.