California Democrats to investigate cause of high gas prices – WSB-TV Channel 2

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — (AP) — With California drivers paying more than $6 for a gallon of gas and state officials deadlocked for months over how to provide relief, lawmakers of the State Assembly announced on Monday that they would investigate oil companies they say are “abusing a historic position to suck profits out of the wallets of Californians.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced the creation of a bipartisan committee to investigate petrol price hikes, with plans to interview oil companies, regulators and economists to find out why gas prices in California are still the highest in the country.

Gasoline prices in California are currently the highest in the United States, with the average price per gallon at $6.40 on Monday compared to the national average of $4.98.

“We put ourselves in a situation because of our dependence on the gasoline engine. Still, that’s no excuse for the actions of those who pin down California drivers with one foot on their necks and one hand in their pockets,” Rendon said.

Republicans scoffed at the survey on Monday, blaming Democrats for California’s record gasoline prices because they refused to temporarily stop taxing gasoline like other states have done to control fuels. costs. Democratic President Joe Biden said Monday he is considering temporarily waiving the federal gasoline tax, a move that could save drivers 18.4 cents per gallon.

“Instead of suspending the state gas tax, the Democrats of Sacramento create a committee?” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, Republican vice chairman of the House Budget Committee. “Enough with the political antics. Suspend gas tax now.

California Democrats say they fear the gas tax suspension will only benefit big oil companies, which state regulators have accused in the past of artificially inflating prices in a state that has more than 36 million of registered vehicles on the road.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, said she agrees Californians are paying too much for fuel and warned that “it could only get worse” if the State officials are not “taking responsibility and acting to change the dangerous mix of bans, mandates and bad energy policy they are imposing on our state.

“This Legislature and the Governor should urgently address these policy issues rather than holding press conferences calling for more investigations that time and time again have found our industry to be acting responsibly,” Reheis-Boyd said. .

Gasoline prices in California have historically been among the highest in the country, prompting a number of previous studies and investigations by state officials, including an investigation by the former Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who was outraged when prices hit $1.71 a gallon in San Francisco in 1999.

State, local and federal taxes account for 85 cents for every gallon of gasoline sold in the state, with crude oil, distribution, marketing and profit costs accounting for everything else, according to the California Energy Commission.

But a 2019 review by state regulators suggested that big oil companies were “cheating and overcharging” customers by up to $1 per gallon, forcing California drivers to pay an additional $11.6 billion in fuel. pump over a five-year period compared to other states.

Governor Gavin Newsom requested an investigation by the state attorney general, an investigation that is still ongoing nearly three years later.

Instead of suspending the gas tax, California Democrats want to use the state’s record budget surplus of nearly $100 billion to send money directly to taxpayers to offset high fuel prices . But nothing has happened yet because Democrats who control the state legislature have been unable to agree with Newsom on how to proceed.

Rendon, the Democratic House Speaker, said legislative leaders made progress over the weekend in marathon negotiating sessions with the Newsom administration. But “we’re not ready to make any announcements yet,” he said.

Republicans, meanwhile, held a press conference last week marking 100 days since Democrats pledged to take action to tackle high gas prices. Republicans don’t have enough seats in the Legislature to pass bills on their own.

“We are still waiting with no relief in sight,” said Republican Assembly Leader James Gallagher. “We need action now.”

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