(INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) — As California lawmakers advance a bill that could ultimately punish oil companies for excessive profits, the state’s attorney general says that the legislative action will help hold oil companies accountable.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom convened a special session of the Legislature and tasked lawmakers with taking action to protect consumers after the state saw gas prices skyrocket over the summer.
While the original plan of taxing oil companies did not advance in the Legislature, lawmakers and the governor settled on a bill that would let a state commission determine whether to impose penalties on oil companies.
“We experienced over the last year gas prices bordering on $7, almost $3 more than the national average,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in an interview with Inside California Politics. “And we learned that $200 billion in profit went to oil companies and gas companies during that time.”
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The bill, SB X1-2, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner, would authorize the California Energy Commission to set a “maximum gross gasoline refining margin” and to set penalties for exceeding it.
The bill also requires oil refiners to include more information in already-existing required reports they provide to the commission.
“This is…to make sure that we are holding oil companies accountable, that there is oversight, that there is transparency,” Bonta said. “[This is to make sure] that they are reporting to a regulator…information that exists but information that is not being shared that a regulator should know and understand to protect Californians.”
The bill passed the California Senate 30-8 on Thursday and the Assembly is expected to vote on it in the coming days.