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California Democrats to analyze explanation for excessive gasoline costs


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With California drivers paying greater than $6 for a gallon of gasoline and state officers deadlocked for months over easy methods to present aid, lawmakers within the state Assembly on Monday introduced they might examine oil firms they are saying are “abusing a historic situation to suck profits from Californians’ wallets.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced a bipartisan committee to investigate gas price gouging, with plans to question oil companies, regulators and economists to find out why California’s gas prices are consistently the highest in the country.

California’s gas prices are currently the highest in the U.S., with the average price per gallon at $6.40 on Monday compared to the national average of $4.98.

“We have put ourselves in a situation because of our addiction to the gas-powered engine. Yet that is no excuse for the actions of those who pin California drivers down with a foot on our necks and a hand in our pockets,” Rendon said.

Republicans mocked the investigation on Monday, blaming Democrats for California’s record-high gas prices because they have refused to temporarily stop taxing gasoline as other states have done to control costs. Democratic President Joe Biden on Monday said he was contemplating temporarily suspending the federal gas tax, a move that could save drivers 18.4 cents per gallon.

“Instead of suspending the state’s gas tax, Sacramento Democrats are creating a committee?” stated Assembly member Vince Fong, the Republican vice chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “Enough with the political antics. Suspend the gas tax now.”

California Democrats say they worry suspending the gasoline tax would profit solely large oil firms, whom state regulators accused prior to now of artificially inflating costs in a state that has greater than 36 million registered autos on the highway.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, stated she agreed Californians are paying an excessive amount of for gasoline and warned “it could only get worse” if state officers do not “take responsibility and act not to change the dangerous mix of bans, mandates and bad energy policy they are pushing on our state.”

“This Legislature and the Governor should be urgently addressing these policy matters rather than holding press conferences calling for more investigations that time after time have found our industry is acting responsibly,” Reheis-Boyd stated.

California gasoline costs have traditionally been among the many nation’s highest, prompting numerous earlier research and inquiries by state officers — together with an investigation by former Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who was outraged when costs reached $1.71 per gallon in San Francisco in 1999.

State, native and federal taxes make up 85 cents for each gallon of gasoline offered within the state, with the prices of crude oil, distribution, advertising and marketing and earnings accounting for the whole lot else, in line with the California Energy Commission.

But a 2019 evaluation by state regulators instructed large oil firms had been “misleading and overcharging” prospects by as a lot as $1 per gallon, leading to California drivers paying a further $11.6 billion on the pump over a 5 yr interval in comparison with different states.

Gov. Gavin Newsom requested for an investigation by the state legal professional common, an investigation that’s nonetheless pending almost three years later.

Instead of suspending the gasoline tax, California Democrats need to use the state’s record-breaking funds surplus of almost $100 billion to ship cash on to taxpayers to assist offset the excessive value of gasoline. But nothing has occurred but as a result of Democrats who management the state Legislature have been unable to agree with Newsom on how to do this.

Rendon, the Democratic Assembly speaker, stated legislative leaders made progress over the weekend throughout marathon negotiation periods with the Newsom administration. But “we’re not ready to make any announcements yet,” he stated.

Republicans, in the meantime, held a information convention final week marking 100 days since Democrats vowed to take motion to handle excessive gasoline costs. Republicans haven’t got sufficient seats within the Legislature to cross payments on their very own.

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

California Democrats to analyze explanation for excessive gasoline costs.
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