Le Lézard
Classified in: Oil industry
Subjects: SVY, LEG, LBR, POL, AVO

Dirty Last Minute Deal To Weaken Gasoline Price Gouging Law Passes Under Radar; Gasoline Prices Up Steeply In California And State Has Failed To Respond, Says Consumer Watchdog

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. 

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.

"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."

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.  

"California refiners are testing the state's resolve as their profit margins climb with gasoline prices," said Court. "The state needs to step up, not step back its enforcement.  Governor Newsom should veto this cynical last-minute attempt to undermine state regulation."

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

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