Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog said today that the California Energy Commission under Governor Gavin Newsom is finally taking steps to confront artificially high gasoline prices in California by acknowledging the role of oil refiners’ supply and retail price manipulation in sky-high pump prices.
Since 2015, Consumer Watchdog has issued a series of reports showing that oil companies withhold gasoline and inflate prices at their branded stations to pump up California gas prices, which are now more than $1 per gallon higher than the national average. Today, the CEC acknowledged both problems in a memo to Governor Newsom, according to the Associated Press.
“Having a Governor who does not accept oil company contributions is now reaping dividends for the drivers of this state who have paid billions too much at the gas pump for years while previous administrations have turned a blind eye to gas price manipulation,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “Governor Newsom’s Energy Commission has finally acknowledged that the extra dollar we pay at the pump is likely highway robbery because it’s not justified by production costs. Whenever gas prices spike so do oil refiner profits. At last we have a real investigation into the Golden State Gouge.”
“The Commission is finally looking at the way the five oil refiners that control 90% of the gasoline in this state withhold gasoline when refineries go down and also artificially inflate retail prices at their branded stations.” said Court. “The Big Five oil refiners have been charging the small independent gas stations 20 to 30 cents less for the same gasoline for years, which shows they could also sell it for less. The CEC is finally honing in on the problem and that should drive solutions, like a windfall profits tax on oil refiners.”
Consumer Watchdog urged the Governor and legislature not to wait five months for a final investigation promised by the CEC. The group asked the legislature to take action immediately to create a windfall profits tax on oil refiners that takes back excessive oil refiner profits from recent gasoline price spikes.
“Californians need relief now,” said Court, noting summer drive time was just beginning. “The legislature should put in place a windfall profits tax that gives California drivers back excessive profits made by oil refiners from what we now call The Golden State Gouge. Oil companies should not be able to use this state like an ATM anymore. It’s time to reverse the cash flow.”
Read Consumer Watchdog’s reports on pricing at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/holding-big-oil-accountable-0
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