© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

California Assembly approves oil profit penalty bill, sending it to Newsom

High gas prices are shown in Los Angeles on May 24.
Jae C. Hong
High gas prices are shown in Los Angeles on May 24.

California lawmakers completed a nearly four-month special session Monday by sending Governor Gavin Newsom a bill that would create new transparency around oil industry profit margins.

SBX1-2 would also empower the California Energy Commission to limit those profit margins and penalize refiners from exceeding them.

Newsom called for the legislation last year amid spiking gas prices in California, particularly after several oil companies reported record profits.

The governor told reporters he plans to sign the legislation Tuesday. He called it “a big day for consumers, for Mother Nature.”

“When you take on big oil, they usually roll you — exactly what they’ve been doing to consumers for years and years and years,” he said in the state Capitol after the bill passed. “We sent a big and very powerful message to them today.”

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 52-19, with some moderate Democrats not voting or joining Republicans in voting against it.

Democrats including Assembly member Phil Ting argued California’s isolated fuel market is an “oligopoly” held by just five large oil refiners who drove prices up in 2022 while blaming low supply and refinery maintenance.

“Unless we … are going to do something to rein in this industry, guess what’s going to happen? They’re going to charge whatever price they want to all 40 million of us, and we’re going to have to pay whatever price they want,” Ting said.

Democrats also noted the legislation will sunset after a decade unless the state auditor finds it has worked to prevent price spikes.

Oil companies opposed the legislation, arguing it would place new burdens on a shrinking and heavily regulated industry.

Republicans decried a rushed process, noting the bill was up for its final vote only one week after undergoing extensive amendments.

GOP leader James Gallagher accused Newsom of driving the legislative process, and asked lawmakers to “stand up” for themselves.

“We’ve heard exactly one idea” during the special session, Gallagher said. “His. We’ve had several bills that have been introduced,” but none got a hearing.

Copyright 2023 CapRadio