EWG applauds Gov. Newsom’s plan to make big oil pay for gouging Californians at the pump

SAN FRANCISCO – The Environmental Working Group applauds California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Legislature members for making good on their promise to penalize big oil companies for rampant price gouging at the pump, which has led to windfall profits.

Their proposal would levy penalties on oil refiners that have reaped millions on the backs of hard-working people and return the money to Californians through refunds. Details remain to be resolved, and the plan would have to win the Legislature’s approval.

“Gov. Newsom and members of the Legislature should be applauded for sending a clear signal that this outrageous price gouging of consumers will not stand,” said EWG president and California resident Ken Cook

“While California’s sky-high gas prices have hammered everyday families struggling with the rising cost of living, these big oil companies have enjoyed record profits, courtesy of the consumer," Cook said.

The typical price for a gallon of gas in the state is nearly twice the national average – as high as $7 in some areas in recent months.

Just five oil refiners produce nearly all the gas sold in California, and they set the price per gallon at every gas station in the state. These refiners make more than $1 in profit for every gallon sold in California – more than double what they have made in profit per gallon every year in the past two decades.

On Monday Newsom convened a special session of the Legislature, with the goal of passing his proposal before the end of the year. It would set a “maximum gross gasoline refining margin” – otherwise called a profit gap – based on the average monthly earnings an oil refiner makes per barrel in the wholesale gas market in California.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, the California Energy Commission would be empowered to impose civil penalties on oil refiners that exceed the profit gap limit. The money from penalties would go into a special fund lawmakers could tap for money to send California families in the form of a refund.

“We urge the Legislature to pass this measure so these companies will think twice before fleecing California families in the future,” said Cook.

In November, EWG launched an online campaign, including a series of ads that ran on major news sites across California, calling on residents to support Newsom’s call to penalize the state’s big oil refiners over the outrageous windfall profits they’ve made hiking gas prices for millions of hardworking people.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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