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Gov. Jerry Brown called on state regulators today to allow the early sale of less expensive, winter-blend gasoline in California, a measure he said could bring down spiking fuel prices.

"Gas prices in California have risen to their highest levels ever, with unacceptable cost impacts on consumers and small businesses," the Democratic governor said in a prepared statement. "I am directing the Air Resources Board to immediately take whatever steps are necessary to allow an early transition to winter-blend gasoline."

Brown's action follows a request by the California Independent Oil Marketers Association for permission to produce winter-blend fuel before the state's typical, Oct. 31 switchover date. The request is subject to review by the California Energy Commission.

It is unclear what effect an early switchover might have. Fuel prices started spiking last week, after a series of in-state refinery problems, though some analysts predicted prices could start falling this week.

The average price of regular unleaded gasoline statewide today hit $4.66 a gallon, according to AAA.

Brown's office said an early switch to winter-blend fuel could increase California's fuel supply by as much as 8 percent to 10 percent, with minimal impact on the environment.

"In light of the tight gasoline supplies and resulting price spikes, we should not wait until the end of the month to start production of our winter-blend gasoline," Brown said in a letter to the California Air Resources Board. "Allowing refiners to make an early transition to winter-blend gasoline could quickly increase fuel supply and provide a much needed safety valve with negligible air quality impacts."


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