Labor, Working Families Party, progressive and climate justice organizations unite on bill to penalize future gasoline price gouging
Sacramento, CA — Over 100 state, local, and national organizations sent a letter calling on the California Legislature to adopt Governor Gavin Newsom’s price gouging penalty legislation, SBX1-2, introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) in response to record high pump prices faced by Californians in the fall of 2022 even as the crude oil commodity price dropped.
“We write to express our support for SBX1 2, legislation to create a price gouging penalty that is needed to hold the oil industry accountable and protect Californians from the industry’s greed and profiteering,” the groups stated collectively in the letter.
“While Californians paid as much as $2.60 more for their gasoline than average US gasoline prices, California oil refiners continued to post record-breaking windfall profits—literally profiting off Californians’ pain at the pump.”
“Windfall Big Oil profits threaten our pocketbooks, our democracy, and our health. California oil companies are bullying working Californians—and since bullies only respond to strength, we need our leaders to hold firm.”
Groups standing in support of SBX1-2 include SEIU California, the California Working Families Party, Consumer Watchdog, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Progressive Democrats of America – California, Elected Officials to Protect America, Roots Action, and dozens of others. A full list of the 100+ signatories can be found at bottom.
Newly published data show California’s 5 Big Oil refiners (Chevron, Valero, Marathon, Phillips 66 and PBF Energy) that produce 97% of the state’s refined gasoline earned collective 2022 annual profits of $75.4 billion. This is nearly three times the $27.8 billion in profits the five reported collectively in 2021.
“Oil companies looted California. Working people, many of whom have to travel hours to work, have been hit the hardest, with billions of dollars stolen from their pockets through price gouging. This has to stop,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU California and SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW)
“Governor Newsom’s push to penalize California’s largest oil refiners for engaging in price gouging is needed when they tripled corporate profits in 2022 amid record prices at the pump for working class Californians,” said Raquel Mason, Policy Manager of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “Those profits not only came out of hard-working Californians’ pockets, but also through extracting and refining a product that poisons economically oppressed environmental justice communities. The time is ripe for Newsom and the California Legislature to continue to stand up to Big Oil’s profiteering.”
In 2022, data collected and analyzed by Consumer Watchdog points to the five major refiners doubling their profits at the pump from 32 cents per gallon over a 20 year average to an average of 66 cents per gallon profits in 2022. Signers of the letter are calling for a cap on refiners profits of 50 cents per gallon.
“We need a permanent windfall profits cap in place to deter the outrageous profit taking that California’s big refiners engaged for most of 2022,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “This is the only thing that will protect average people from the outrageous price spikes.”
SBX1-2 and high gas prices will be the subject of a February 22 informational hearing held before the Utilities Energy and Communications Committee set for a 1:30 PM start time and titled, “Petroleum Windfall Profits Penalty: Will Californians Get Relief at the Gas Pump?” in Senate Committee Room 1200.
Beyond imposing penalties on future refinery price gouging, the legislation also would create a Price Gouging Penalty Fund, with refunds returned to California residents. It also calls for more market pricing transparency, to be overseen by the California Energy Commission. Relatedly, the legislation calls for the Energy Commission to create an advisory committee overseeing those pricing transparency efforts.
Polling from David Binder Research conducted between January 14-January 18, involving 800 online and phone surveys, showed that 66% of Californians support imposition of a windfall profits penalty on excessive oil company profits. Some 84% of Democrats support the policy, as do 37% of Republicans. Every age demographic and clear majorities across geographic regions and demographics all support the legislation’s intent, according to the poll (summarized below).
“The California Working Families Party stands with the majority of Californians in our push to penalize oil companies for their greedy business practices, through SBX1-2,” said Mehran Khodabaendeh, Senior Political Strategist of the California Working Families Party. “As hard-working Californians rationed their expenses to afford record high prices at the pump, Big Oil’s price gouging pumped up profits for their billionaire CEO’s and shareholders. We call on state leaders to redistribute those profits earned on the backs of economically struggling Californians back to the people.”
Beyond Governor Newsom’s outspoken advocacy and leadership in favor of the legislation, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins recently told Politico that “One thing that’s already clear is that Californians are tired of paying high prices at the fuel pump. Gouging Californians will not be tolerated.”
The following organizations signed the letter:
1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations
350 Bay Area Action
350 Butte County
350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley
350 South Bay Los Angeles
350 Southland Legislative Alliance
350 Ventura County Climate Hub
Action for the Climate Emergency
Alameda County Democratic Party
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Ballona Wetlands Institute
Battle Creek Alliance & Defiance Canyon Raptor Rescue
Breast Cancer Action
Businesses for a Livable Climate
CA Youth Vs Big Oil
California Climate Voters
California Environmental Justice Alliance
California Environmental Voters
California Green New Deal Coalition
California Nurses for Environmental Health and Justice
California Working Families Party
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
Center for Environmentally Recycled Building Alternatives
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Central California Asthma Collaborative
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Sacramento
Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Santa Cruz Chapter
Clean Power Campaign
Climate Action Campaign
Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas (CFROG)
Climate Hawks Vote
Communities for a Better Environment
Corvallis Interfaith Climate Justice Committee
Defend Ballona Wetlands
Drawdown Bay Area
EldersClimateAction, NorCal and SoCal Chapters
Elected Officials to Protect America
Environmental & Public Health Consulting
Environmental Working Group
Feminists in Action Los Angeles
Food & Water Watch
Fossil Free CA
Friends of the Earth
Gemini Energy Solutions, Inc.
Glendale Environmental Coalition
Green Building Architects
Health Justice Commons
Let’s Go Farm
Let’s Green CA!
Long Beach Gray Panthers
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
Manhattan Beach Huddle
Marin Interfaith Climate Action
Ocean Conservation Research
Oil and Gas Action Network
Oil Change International
PDA-CA (Progressive Democrats of America – California)
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Sacramento
Physicians for Social Responsibility – SF Bay
Project Green Home
Rapid Shift Network
Sacramento Climate Coalition
Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition
Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
Save the Environmental Protection Agency
Sierra Club CA
Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action
Small Business Alliance
SoCal 350 Climate Action
Spottswoode Winery, Inc.
Sustainable Mill Valley
System Change Not Climate Change
The Climate Alliance of Santa Cruz County
The Climate Center
Transformative Wealth Management, LLC
Women’s March Santa Barbara
Contact Alexandra Nagy at [email protected] for more information about the sign-on letter, refinery profits data, polling, or SBX1-2.