Santa Monica, CA—Responding to a shutdown of two refineries that produce 16 percent of the state’s gasoline, Consumer Watchdog called on state officials to send independent inspectors to verify refinery claims that the shutdowns were really necessary.
“We write now to request that independent inspectors be sent immediately to both refineries to ascertain if they are telling the truth,” wrote Consumer Advocates Liza Tucker and Cody Rosenfield to Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris and legislative leaders. “We also urgently need legislation ensuring independent, on-site refinery investigations whenever a shutdown occurs in order to assure the public that outages are justified.”
For the letter, see: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/refineryletterfeb18.pdf
Tesoro shut down its Martinez refinery on February 6. Exxon shut its refinery in Torrance on February 16. Since February 6, gas prices have jumped 27 cents a gallon in California, while the US average has jumped only a dime a gallon. The refineries claimed that the shutdowns were caused by safety concerns during a steelworkers’ strike and by a mechanical failure, respectively. But the advocates said that needed outside confirmation.
“Unfortunately, California refineries have a history of trying to manipulate gas prices by restricting supply,” the consumer advocates wrote. “Whistleblower documents we received from the 1990s show deliberate attempts by major refineries and the American Petroleum Institute to reduce refinery capacity nationally and in California.”
“One shutdown on top of another means that consumers will take another big hit at the pump,” said Tucker. “It’s the state’s responsibility to hold these companies accountable, and to investigate price manipulation in order to protect the public.”
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