Gas in California has skyrocketed to more than $5 a gallon because of some unique market conditions. Could it happen in your state too?

Several states and even some municipalities have special seasonal cocktails of gasoline. For example, places like Denver and Utah's Salt Lake Valley have air inversions that trap pollutions during the cold months and require a special winter cocktail for fuel.

However, in most of the rest of the country, the real issue is summer.

Yet the problem is the more customized each region makes its gas, the harder it is to overcome hiccups in the marketplace.

California's fuel cocktail for summer is so unique there are only a small number of refineries that can make it. Unfortunately, one refinery is having maintenance done while another had a fire. That created this terrible shortage.

Costco Wholesale, the biggest seller of gas in California, had been without gas for days. The price when you could find it kept climbing up and up. Finally, the state's governor relaxed the summer cocktail requirement and that's increased the speed with which supply is now coming in.

The answer, of course, is simple. Just have a small variety of fuel cocktails.

Have one national standard for your winter mix that's agreed upon by the states and the oil companies. Have another blend for summer for California, some Texas cities, and places like Atlanta and others that require a clean burn. And then have one blend for standard fuel for everybody else.

But to have all these variations creates market disruptions that people suffer from, and it's your wallet that gets eaten up by this.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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