California legislature approves plan to punish oil refiners for gas price gouging

Legislation heads to plan’s supporter Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign

SACRAMENTO – California’s Assembly today passed a proposal to provide state energy regulators the authority to hold Big Oil refiners accountable for future gas price gouging.

The measure passed in the Assembly by a vote of 52 to 19. Last week, the state Senate voted overwhelmingly to adopt the proposal by a vote of 30 to 8. It now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called for the industry penalty and is expected to sign it into law soon.

The legislation will establish a new, independent watchdog that will be part of the California Energy Commission and be responsible for monitoring the state’s petroleum industry activities every day. The goal is to make sure the state’s five main oil refiners do not artificially increase gas prices on consumers or engage in other mischief that can foist higher prices at the pump on consumers.

Big Oil last year hiked gas prices for no reason other than to make more profit, and in doing so punished hard-working Californians who paid excessively at the pump.

The Environmental Working Group was among the many environmental and other advocacy groups that supported passage of the bill as a way to prevent more gas price gouging in the future.

Below is a statement from Bill Allayaud, director of government affairs for EWG in California:

This proposal will make it much harder for the state’s big oil refiners to rip off hard-working California families and rake in record profits on the backs of consumers, by installing much needed transparency in the state’s opaque retail fuel market.

By requiring these companies to disclose key information about supply chain costs, it will be a lot harder for them to do this again. But they never yield an inch – through today’s hearings, they still cannot and will not explain their huge profit margins in this state.


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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