Mystery Surcharge at the Pump Prompts California Drivers to Ask Where Their Money is Going

California drivers pay some of the highest gas prices in the country much of that is a federal, state and local tax, but 20 cents per gallon remains a mystery and drivers are starting to ask where that money is going.

A professor at UC Berkeley discovered that amount adds up to more than $18 billion and legislators are now asking the attorney general to disclose where that money is being used for.

"It amounts to three to five billion dollars a year that Californians are paying for gasoline above what we would normally expect to pay," said Severin Borenstein from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

In 2014 Borenstein joined a committee that was responsible for investigating why gasoline prices in California were so much higher than the rest of the country.

Borenstein realized prices increased after an explosion at a refinery in Southern California and realized prices never came back down.

"We have some problem, it’s a lot of money, and I think the state should, and I’m glad they are now, addressing it," Borenstein said.

A group of 19 legislators including several from the Bay Area have written a letter to California’s Attorney General asking the Department of Justice to look into where the money is going.

"We got bills to pay. That 20 cents adds up," driver Colin Trang said.

Gas prices are typically cheaper at unbranded stations like Rotten Robbies or Safeway and the difference between name brands and unbranded station is bigger in California compared to other states, Borenstein said.

"There’s no reason why in California, that we should be paying more for gas than other states," said driver Dion Byrd.

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