Gas price average tops $3 in Calif. By Barbara Hagenbaugh, USA TODAY Fri Apr 21, 7:14 AM ET California on Thursday became the first state in the continental USA to see average gasoline prices go above $3 a gallon in 2006, while the price at the pump in Los Angeles hit an all-time high. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in California hit $3.015 Thursday, up 3 cents from the day before and up 34 cents from a month ago, according to a daily tally from motorist club AAA and the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). The average statewide price is 4 cents shy of the all-time high reached in September. Some regions in Southern California set records Thursday. The average price in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area hit $3.029, the highest price on record. Prices in Orange County, Riverside-San Bernadino, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc and Ventura also broke records. While gas prices in California are often higher than in other states because of the different clean-air blends used there and fewer pipelines present, there recently has been a pricing frenzy in spot gasoline markets on the West Coast, says Fred Rozell of OPIS. Alfredo Zapata, who owns a personal-training business in Los Angeles, says he thinks people are getting used to the higher prices. "A lot of people like to talk about it, but for the most part, the show must go on," Zapata, 43, says. On the other side of the country, some gas stations from Virginia to New Hampshire were closing temporarily because their suppliers have to shut down to switch to ethanol blends to meet clean-air rules. "The whole supply chain has to stop, draw down inventory, inspect for leaks, clean the facility" before refilling the tanks with ethanol blends, AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom says. "It could result in motorists finding a station here and there not having gasoline." Some regions require anti-pollution fuel blends. The chemical MTBE has been used, but refiners are phasing it out to avoid lawsuits over its potential health risks, and ethanol is the only handy replacement. Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.825 Thursday, up more than 2 cents from Wednesday and 31 cents higher than a month ago, according to OPIS and AAA. That's the highest price since Oct. 13. In Hawaii, the most expensive state, gas was $3.154 Thursday.