September 17, 2023

Sacramento, CA — A bill amended 72 hours before the end of the legislative session and passed in the dead of night without debate would undermine California’s new gasoline price gouging law.

“This is outrageous. People across the state, especially those who can least afford the rising gas prices, will be hurt the most. Big Oil’s earnings last year were $200 billion,” said Alex Walker-Griffin Mayor of Hercules, Elected Officials to Protect America – California Leadership Council Co-chair. “This issue was meant to be taken care of with the price gouging law but the influence of these corporations is still at large. We must put an end to these practices. The lives and livelihoods of the people of California are far more important than the profits of corporations that still needlessly get government subsidies.”ia are far more important than the profits of corporations that still needlessly get government subsidies.”

SB 842, authored by Steve Bradford, would prevent the California Energy Commission from stopping unnecessary refinery maintenance without consulting with “labor and industry stakeholders” and the Department of Industrial Relations.
The bill slipped under the radar and was passed with no legislative debate.

“Over 150 local elected officials throughout California were proud to support the first in the nation bill to hold multi billion-dollar corporations accountable for price gouging, laying the groundwork for a healthier, more just and economically vibrant California for all,” said Meghan Salhi-Wells, Elected Officials to Protect America – California Director, former LA Culver City Mayor. “We represent communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution, unbreathable air and climate disaster, that, to add insult to injury, Big Oil has held hostage by unprecedented price hikes at the pump. Our network is stunned and appalled by the last minute amendment to SB 842, that passed in a nighttime session with no debate, and that undermines our progress and the health of our communities. We call on Governor to veto this bad bill, and once again stand with Californians over corporate interests.”

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows California gasoline prices are $5.25 per gallon compared to a national average of $3.82 – a $1.43 gap. Gasoline prices are typically $1.10 more than US prices and should be no more than 70 to 80 cents more based on extra taxes and environmental fees.
Moreover, the refinery margins reported  to the state on a monthly basis have doubled since January – from 66 cents per gallon in January to $1.19 per gallon in June.  

“With gasoline prices spiking in California, this is no time to weaken a price gouging law that has barely taken effect,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “Governor Newsom should veto this eleventh hour attack on his gasoline price gouging law. His regulators need all the tools in their shed to combat the increasing gasoline prices in California that are now $1.43 more than US gasoline prices.  New state reporting shows refinery margins have doubled since January and are now at $1.20 per gallon. This is no time to take away important consumer protections. Governor Newsom is away at Climate Week this weekend where he should resolve not to weaken the landmark accountability laws he signed in March to appease oil companies and their allies in the unions that work in refineries.”