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VIDEO: Key Moments from the Gas Price Gouging Penalty Hearing

SACRAMENTO – Earlier this week, the California State Senate hosted the first hearing of the special session to hold Big Oil accountable for gas price gouging.

Two things were clear: Action is needed to prevent Californians from getting ripped off at the pump again, and Big Oil will continue stonewalling and lying to protect their record profits.

SELECTED CLIPS: 

(Click each clip to watch and download.)

Legislators agree: the time for action is now.

Senator Mike McGuire (D-North Coast): “If you were a commuter in LA, you were paying $7 a gallon; if you were a commuter up in Eureka, you were paying $8 a gallon. I want to repeat what your gas tax is – 54 cents from the state. 54 cents. So, there’s incredible frustration on behalf of Californians and Americans on why they are paying so much.”

Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles): “I’m just as, if not more, upset and angry as my colleague about the impact that it’s had on poor and working people; always seem to be the ones who get the worst impact. They’re low-income, they’re essential workers.” 

Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine): “When you’re paying over $100 at the pump .. they’re struggling to pay their bills, they’re struggling to pay their mortgages… The fact that these prices are concomitant with record high industry profits, when they see the headlines about the oil industry is engaging in share buybacks, massive dividends. I think that pisses a lot of people off frankly.”

💰 Senators revealed most of the “independent” experts took money from the oil industry.

Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles): “Have you ever received income or other compensation for your work from the oil industry? Or from foreign governments that run oil companies?” 

🦗 The so-called experts were asked what solutions they’d propose. Spoiler: they didn’t have any. 

Senator Angelique Ashby (D-Sacramento): “If not the Governor’s price gouging penalty and transparency plan, then what model do you propose? … [silence] .. You are the experts … [more silence]” 

🧐 Californians paid $8 billion for Big Oil’s “mystery surcharge” that boosts their profits.

Severin Borenstein, UC Berkeley economist: “Prior to 2015, … California’s price was higher than the rest of the country’s by almost exactly on average the higher taxes and fees. After February of 2015, that hasn’t been the case. And 2022 of course was a huge outlier. … The mystery gasoline surcharge in 2022 was well over $8 billion that Californians paid in excess of what they would’ve paid if California prices were in line with the rest of the country.”

🤑 Big Oil downplayed and defended their record profits. 

Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach): “$200 billion is quite a lot of money for five of the largest oil companies to be making while Californians were paying the most at the pump across the country. I mean, do you not find this excessive, and if you don’t, why not?”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA): “Our earnings are well below many, many of the S&P 500 companies… They’re not that historic.”