Governor Newsom Appoints the First Director of New Oil Watchdog

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Tai Milder, a seasoned antitrust prosecutor, will lead the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight – the new office established by Governor Newsom’s gas price gouging law – to investigate price gouging and hold Big Oil accountable.

SACRAMENTO –  Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the appointment of Tai Milder as the first Director of the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight within the California Energy Commission (CEC), a major milestone in the state’s efforts to hold Big Oil accountable following last year’s record gasoline price spikes.

Milder is a seasoned prosecutor and antitrust expert who most recently served the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. He has successfully investigated and prosecuted companies and individuals that tried to rip off consumers by engaging in price-fixing, bid-rigging, and bribery. Milder also worked at California’s Department of Justice enforcing state antitrust laws against oil and gas companies.

The new oil watchdog office is a key part of Governor Newsom’s gas price gouging law, which was approved during a special session of the Legislature earlier this year and took effect in June. The division will closely monitor the industry on a daily basis to identify irregular or illegal behavior, and will refer any violation of law – including industry misconduct or market manipulation – to the Attorney General for prosecution.

What Governor Newsom said: “California is serious about holding Big Oil accountable. Tai Milder has an impressive record of going after companies that rip off consumers, and that’s exactly what he’ll be doing – serving as a watchdog over the oil and gas industry and protecting Californians.”

What Tai Milder said: “I’m looking forward to leading the nation’s first independent oil and gas watchdog. Transparency and accountability are essential to protecting California consumers and those principles will guide the work of this division every day.”

Today’s announcement comes as the CEC is unveiling a new interactive dashboard to increase transparency within the oil and gas industry. The dashboard, which has data from January 1999 to present, has a detailed price breakdown of costs, taxes, and fees for a gallon of gasoline. It also has estimated gross margins for refiners and distributors, which is one of many indicators that can be used to look at how the petroleum market in California is operating.

In recent months, the CEC has also hosted several public workshops to ensure that industry has no excuse for failing to comply with the law.

Today’s Appointment: Tai Milder, of Oakland, has been appointed Director of the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight within the California Energy Commission. Milder has served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice since 2022, where he also served as a Trial Attorney from 2009 to 2017 and again in 2021. Milder served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Antitrust Law Section at the California Department of Justice from 2019 to 2021. He was Counsel at Robins Kaplan LLP from 2017 to 2019. Milder served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2014 to 2015. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $199,740. Milder is a Democrat.