Oil Giants Succumb to Raccoon and Possum;

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Group Pleads With LA Motorists Not to Blame Wildlife for 7-Cent a Gallon Price Spike

SANTA MONICA, CA — Wholesale gasoline prices jumped 7 cents a gallon in the Los Angeles area Monday after a raccoon and a possum briefly shorted out power lines to the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance and a Shell Oil Co. refinery in Wilmington. That a pair of unfortunate animal suicides is being soberly blamed by Reuters news service for a gasoline price spike sounds like an April Fools Day hoax, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. But Edison and the DWP, whose lines were affected, confirmed the cause and effect to Reuters news service. Read the story here.

“If they’re going to be serious about it, so are we,” said Judy Dugan, research director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan FTCR. “Only in a market that is deliberately kept short of gasoline stocks could a pair of small mammals cost motorists a couple of million dollars at the pump. And only oil companies and speculators could think motorists are dumb enough to believe the blame stops with the wildlife.”

California and the West have fewer days of gasoline supply on hand than other U.S. regions, a result of a deliberate shrinking of refinery capacity in the early 1990s, said FTCR. Less supply means a market more susceptible to any hiccup in production, from a refinery fire to a raccoon bite. A larger supply on hand would dampen or eliminate such market burps.

“ExxonMobil and Shell are not a pair of fragile, pitiful giants subject to crippling by a Warner Brothers cartoon accident,” said Dugan. “They just want the people paying 7 cents a gallon more at the pump to think so.”

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Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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