Hearing Today on CA Gas Price-Gouging Bill


California lawmakers are holding a hearing in Sacramento today to discuss a bill that would make oil companies and gasoline refiners accountable for alleged price gouging. According to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, gas prices in California last fall were an average of $6.42 per gallon, which was $2.61 more than the national average. This occurred despite a drop in crude oil prices and no change in state taxes and fees.

Mayor Farrah Khan of Irvine expressed her support for Senate Bill 2, which aims to establish an independent watchdog within the California Energy Commission. The proposed division would have the authority to subpoena information in order to root out and address any abuses of market power. Khan stated that "it's going to establish a new division to provide independent oversight and analysis of the market."

The Western States Petroleum Association issued a statement saying that the windfall penalty in this proposal is worse than the original bill, arguing that the Legislature would be giving away all its authority to a group of unelected bureaucrats. The Association believes that this would lead to less investment, less supply, and higher gasoline prices for Californians.

Mayor Steven Hernandez of Coachella believes that it is a matter of fairness for families who live paycheck to paycheck. He pointed out that "people struggle to afford gas and rent, and to pay medical expenses," and that being mindful of the working class is beneficial for society.

The proposed California Energy Commission watchdog would analyze data to look for patterns of misconduct or price manipulation. The bill would also start a rule-making process at the Commission to set a reasonable profit margin and impose a penalty for price-gouging above the margin. Any fines would be returned to taxpayers.

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