Sacramento, CA – Legislation backed by Governor Newsom to create a new state watchdog with power to prevent price gouging at the gas pump cleared the California Assembly by a vote of 52 to 19 and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.
“Californians now will have a watchdog with real teeth on their side to protect them from the gouging at the gas pump that they endured during 2022,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “Californians will no longer be powerless and forced to pay $2 more than US drivers for their gasoline without recourse. Armed with a price gouging penalty, California’s new watchdog bureau will have the power to take action against price gouging and more importantly take precautions to deter it from occurring in the first place. The sunlight that this new law will shed on the hidden workings of the gasoline market should be the best deterrent to preventing the 2022 price spikes from occurring again.”
SBx1 2 (Skinner) gives the California Energy Commission the power to create a price gouging penalty on oil refiners when they make too much money per gallon at a level to be determined in a rule making. The legislation creates new transparency over refinery shutdowns, transactions that compose the crucial spot market where retail prices are set, export and import activity, pipeline activity, and other aspects of the industry that have been shielded from regulators for too long. The bill also creates a new division of the California Energy Commission dedicated to monitoring the market on a daily basis.
Among the most important provisions of SBx1 2 is the new ledger to be kept for transactions on the gasoline spot market. Regulators will have to be informed of all trades to make sure the crucial spot market — where the price retailer pay oil refiners for the gas is set — is not manipulated. For more on the spot market read Consumer Watchdog’s recent LA Times commentary.