SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — While California drivers are paying painfully-high prices at the pumps, the largest oil and gas companies are flush with profits from gas price gouging, U.S. Representative Josh Harder said.
Rep. Harder (D-Central Valley) is fighting back against price gouging with a new bill, Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act. The bill was introduced by Harder in April and it passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.
The oil industry saw soaring profits of $174 billion in 2021. Exxon Mobile’s revenues increased by 57%, Chevron’s profits increased by 84%, Shell’s profits increased by 49%, and BP’s profits increased by 45%.
“Oil companies like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron TRIPLED their revenue this year. Meanwhile, we’re paying $6 a gallon,” Harder wrote on Twitter.
The average price of a gallon of gas in California is currently $6.06.
“While families in the Central Valley wonder whether they can afford to drive to work every morning, oil companies and their executives are soaking up record profits. It’s greed, it’s wrong, and it has to stop,” Harder said.
The bill would give President Joe Biden the power to issue an Energy Emergency Declaration that would make it unlawful to increase gasoline and home energy fuel prices in an excessive or exploitative manner.
The bill would also give the Federal Trade Commission the power to issue penalties for price gouging and prioritize penalizing larger companies while protecting independently owned gas stations.
Late last year, Harder urged leaders in Sacramento to suspend any future increases in California’s gas tax. He wrote directly to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to immediately cut the gas tax. In February, he introduced legislation to suspend the federal gas tax, and last month he introduced legislation to send drivers $500 gas price rebate checks.
Gas prices are anticipated to soar even higher this summer.
Political wrangling between Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators has delayed delivering relief to drivers. The governor had hoped to start sending out checks in July, but now Californians will likely not receive gas rebate checks until October at the earliest.
State lawmakers are still debating how the gas rebate checks will be delivered and who will receive them.
The governor proposed an $11-billion relief package. Registered vehicle owners would be eligible for $400 per vehicle, capped at $800 for two vehicles.