California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) claimed victory Tuesday over oil companies with the signing of a law that caps their profits and punishes price gouging — though there is little evidence they are engaged in the practice.
California gas prices are usually the highest in the nation, a fact that became painfully clear during nationwide price surges last summer. But as been widely documented, including by the New York Times, that has to do with state taxes and with climate change regulations. One oil company CEO responded last year to claims of price gouging by noting that California has a “very hostile regulatory environment for refining,” limiting supply.
Still, Newsom searched for a scapegoat, and found the oil companies an easy target in a state whose left-leaning voters returned Democrats to every statewide office. But his early legislative efforts ran into legal trouble.
The version of the bill that passed this week is, CalMatters.org noted, “watered-down” from his original plan. Still, it could lead to higher gas prices in the long run, if oil companies decide to close up shop in California.
Already, Newsom has banned the sale of most gas-powered cars in the state by 2035, and is pursuing similar bans with regard to diesel trucks — without regard to the burden on shipping, or the weak capacity of the state’s electrical grid, which has run out of power in two of the last three summers. If oil companies decide to leave the state, supply will be restricted even further, turning a legislative “victory” into a defeat for California drivers.
Still, Newsom is clearly angling for a potential presidential bid. He claimed he overcame “30-plus lobbyists” to ram his bill through the California state legislature, where Democrats enjoy a supermajority in both houses.
Ironically, Newsom’s family owes its wealth to the oil industry. His late father served as the trustee of the oil fortune of the Getty family, and was close friends with members of that family, one of California’s oil dynasties.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.