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The average price of a gallon of gas in California right now is just over $4, compared to a national average of about $3. This difference may not seem like a lot, but for millions of Americans, it has serious implications. 

But it’s not just gas prices. Lumber prices have more than tripled since last year, a bushel of corn has doubled in price. As the country continues to emerge from lockdowns and Americans get back to work, these are the dinner table conversations happening, and they’re not easy. 

We spoke to Dave Noerr, mayor of the city of Taft in California, and owner of a commercial crane and trucking company, about how rising consumer prices are affecting his community and his business. 

Dave Noerr is the owner of Huddleston Crane Service Inc. in Taft and the mayor of that town. (Alex Hall/KQED)

“The people who are most affected by this are those at or below the poverty line. For them, taking trips isn’t just for fun or for recreation. There are times people have to make the choice between buying glasses for their child or putting enough fuel in the car to get to their job, or their two jobs,” Mayor Noerr said. 

Dave was raised in a military family and moved to Bakersfield, California in the 80s to work for Sun Oil Company. Now, he owns a commercial trucking and crane business and has served as mayor since 2004. Nearly 85% of his business is related to the oil and gas industry. 

There is a substantial difference between gas and diesel prices in California compared to the rest of the country, he told us, “which is ironic because California is the seventh largest oil and gas producing state in the U.S.” For example, Arizona right next door produces very little, but prices can be 33% less than in Dave’s state. 

“The cost of gas and diesel in the state of California is not a direct correlation to the cost of the raw material, which we produce. It is mostly affected by overburdensome regulations, as well as any law or any fee placed into effect by Sacramento.” Of which there are many. And to that point, Dave worries California’s policies are helping the wrong people at a time when those they should be helping, need it most — for example when it comes to electric vehicles. “The financially fortunate, who can take advantage of the taxpayer-funded incentives to buy these shiny new battery-powered cars, do it because it’s neat, it’s cool. If you’re making that much money, do you really believe taxpayers need to help you buy that car?” 

Dave is more concerned with the Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic and who still may not have gotten them back, given California has only recovered 44% of its lost jobs, he said. 

“Not many lower income households spend their weekends going to town looking at all the shiny new battery powered cars. Instead, they’re worrying about the increasing cost of utilities and gasoline to put in their 8-year old pickup truck, or their 12-year old Honda Accord so they can make it to work and feed their families,” Dave told us.

The left rarely listens to the stories of these Americans or thinks about how their actions affect millions of families across the country. Republicans do, and we will continue to listen and fight back against Democrats’ “America last” policies.

Tags: Scenes