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Customers gas up their car at a Costco Wholesale Corp. on October 5, 2012 in Burbank, California. - 

In California this morning drivers are paying an average $4.66 for a gallon of gas -- the state has passed Hawaii for the dubious honor of priciest place to drive. And so Governor Jerry Brown has ordered that winter will come early this year -- in the form of so-called "winter blend" gasoline.

During summer months, California uses a special blend of gasoline, which is less pollutant, until October when the state switches to "winter blend." Esmael Adibi, a California-based econmist who teaches at Chapman University, says this regimen puts a limit on the overall supply, "Whenever we get in trouble during the summer months, we can't import gasoline from anywhere else and are at the mercy of the refineries domestically."

In the past month, several local refineries have experienced issues such as power outages and fire, further limiting the gasoline supply for California. The government order for winter blend gasoline will allow California to source gasoline from other states, easing the lack of supply. However, if you are California driver looking for relief, Adibi says it might take a while, "many dealerships are buying gasoline at high prices right now, they have it in storage, and they want to recoup that cost."

 

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich