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Thursday, March 15, 2012

When S.F. Gas Prices Skyrocket, Just Blame Iran

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 7:30 AM

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As Billy Beane taught us, you probably can't trust your instincts without cold hard statistics to back them up.

So for anyone who suspected that gasoline prices might be rising with Icarusian ferver, your intuitions have been vindicated. On Monday AAA released its monthly report on America's fuel costs, and San Francisco's average soared 52 cents over the past month.

To put this insanity into context: The price increased only 15 cents the month before that.

"That's a significant jump," says AAA spokesman Matt Skryja. "When you look at month to months jumps, typically they're not gonna be that big."

So why the jaw-dropping surge at the pump? Plenty of reasons. 

The price jump puts the city at $4.43 per gallon, seven cents higher than the state's and 62 cents higher than the national average. Only Hawaii, at $4.44, offers more expensive gasoline than California. Among northern California cities, only Eureka, at $4.47, is more pricey than San Francisco.

Every few years, it seems, rising gas prices move to the forefront of the national discourse. This time, though, the issue has been especially heightened by a fragile economy and a presidential election highlighting Republican challengers who are looking for ways to undermine President Obama's role in the slowly emerging recovery.

As Steve Mufson of the Washington Post explained, "Today's oil prices are the product of years and decades of exploration, automobile design and ingrained consumer habits combined with political events in places such as Sudan and Libya, anxiety about possible conflict with Iran, and the energy aftershocks of last year's earthquake in Japan."

Skryja adds that a growing confidence in the economic recovery has also played a role, by spurring investors to shovel more money into oil.

While he notes that "concerns over a slowing economy in China and easing tensions with Iran" will help bring relief at the pumps, he also warns that warmer weather tends to bring higher gas prices.

So hop on your bike, because it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

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Albert Samaha


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