Pumping Up the Price of Gasoline

Published on

Perhaps no issue affects more
businesses in California now than the skyrocketing price of gasoline.
But Arnold — big business’s biggest advocate — has been remarkably
silent on the inflation at the pump, which is being identified as one
of the biggest job killers, stock killers and profit killers there is.

The cause of the recent run-up is not OPEC crude prices, or
California’s gas prices would not be 50 cents higher than the rest of
the nation, where crude costs are the same. The culprit in California
is limited refining capacity and low inventories. California’s 5 big
refiners, who control 90% of the gas supply, have reduced the number of
refineries from 37 in 1983 to 13 today. That’s because when supplies of
a commodity are artificially limited, like during California’s
electricity crisis, the price goes sky high. First quarter profit
reports from the big 5 refiners show that the West Coast refining
operations are yielding huge profits — which means the price run-up is
not passed-on crude costs but pure profits. (See http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/utilities/pr/pr004238.php3)

What can Arnold do? He can get involved in what is becoming a national
campaign to prevent Shell from demolishing its Bakersfield refinery
this fall — a refinery that supplies 2% of the state’s gasoline and 6%
of its diesel. Recently US Senator Boxer, US Senator Ron Wyden and
Attorney General Lockyer have called on Shell to sell the refinery or
keep it running (see Boxer’s correspondence at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/utilities/rp/).
A National Public Radio story discussed state geologists’ contention of
Shell’s claim that there is not enough local crude to keep the refinery
running (listen at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/utilities/nw/nw004257.php3) Internal Shell documents show the Bakersfield refinery is in fact the most profitable Shell refinery in the system (see http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/pr/pr004157.php3)

Where’s Arnold? Receiving private counsel from his chief of staff
Patricia Cleary, a former Chevron lobbyist? Dining with big donors like
Chevron/Texaco, Occidental Petroelum and ConocoPhillips (76)? Arnold
should be standing up for price-gouged drivers, businesses and the
economy by making sure that Shell is forced to sell its refinery in
Bakersfield on reasonable terms rather than blow it up in the tightest
gasoline market in history, as it is scheduled to do. Permitting
artificial manipulation of the energy supply to drive up prices is bad
for business. And for governors� just ask Gray Davis.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdoghttps://consumerwatchdog.org
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases