Governor Newsom’s Gas Price Gouging Proposal Gains Momentum, Clears Senate

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom issued the statement below after the California Senate passed his special session proposal to hold Big Oil accountable. Authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and co-sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta, the measure creates a dedicated, 24/7 independent watchdog to root out price gouging by oil companies, and authorizes a penalty to hold the industry accountable.

What Governor Newsom said: “For decades, oil companies have gotten away with ripping off California families while making record profits and hiding their books from public view. With this proposal, California leaders are ending the era of oil’s outsized influence and holding them accountable. Thanks to the Senate’s quick action, we’re getting this done for California families.”

HOW IT WORKS: 

  • Creates a new independent watchdog within the California Energy Commission (CEC) charged with monitoring California’s petroleum market on a daily basis to ensure market participants play by the rules.
    • The oversight division would have access to new information required to be reported by refiners, subpoena power to compel production of data and records that could reveal patterns of misconduct or price manipulation, and authority to refer violations of law to the Attorney General for prosecution.
  • Authorizes the CEC to set a price gouging penalty via a public rulemaking process, to hold Big Oil accountable for making excessive profits at the expense of Californian families.
    • The CEC would establish a penalty structure that deters excessive pricing by imposing a civil penalty on refiners who charge more than a maximum allowable margin for the price of gasoline.
    • Before imposing any penalty, the CEC will first evaluate information and determine whether a penalty would have a benefit for consumers.
  • Enhances the state’s authority to analyze why California has seen unexplained higher gas prices since 2015 – sometimes referred to as the “mystery gasoline surcharge” – and enforce reporting requirements on the oil industry to provide greater transparency into California’s petroleum market and encourage companies to play by the rules.
  • Learn more about the Governor’s proposal.