By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The price of gas continues to rise drastically across the Southern California, now hitting its highest point since 2012.

A gas station in downtown Los Angeles on June 22, 2021. (Getty Images)

According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular Tuesday in Los Angeles metropolitan area is $4.33, the highest since October of 2012.

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The average price has increased over $1 a gallon since the start of the year because of a sharp increase in the oil price and increased demand due to more people driving to work, according to Jeffrey Spring, spokesman for AAA of Southern California.

A new California gas tax hike took effect July 1, increasing the price of regular by six-tenths of a cent. The state gas excise tax is now 51.1 cents per gallon, the highest of any state in the nation.

The hike is part of Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair & Accountability Act, which the California Legislature passed in April of 2017 and includes increases in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. The money raised by the gas tax goes towards paying for bridge and road repairs.

The tax increases annually based on the California Consumer Price Index.

When it took affect in November of 2017, it increased the gas tax by 12 cents. It then went up another 5.6 cents in July of 2019, to 47.3 cents per gallon. It went up another 3.2 cents in July of 2020 to 50.5 cents.

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Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at Gasbuddy.com, said prices are going up because of rising demand as the economy reopens.

“Americans taking to the road for July 4 and into the summer months, which is pushing demand up to near-normal levels. But due to the pandemic which caused oil production to decline, we’re faced with basically a shortage of supply,” De Haan said.

De Haan also says compared to everyone else in the country, California has the nation’s highest gasoline taxes, the most recent hike took effect July 1st to pay for bridge and road repairs.

“It has the dubious distinction of being one of the few places in North America that has a carbon management program, that is a cost on carbon emissions. It has the nation’s most stringent type of gasoline required by the California Air Resources Board. Not only that, there’s a lack of energy infrastructure, pipelines in this case that could help alleviate some of the high prices by bringing in product from other areas,” De Haan said.

So when will prices start to fall? De Haan believes not until sometime in the fall.

“In fact gasoline demand continues to improve, we may see demand go up until late July or early August 41 and along with it, gas prices may be going up for the next couple of weeks. Now keep in mind we’re in the midst of hurricane season which can impact price,” he said.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)