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News Release

Attorney General Issues Subpoenas To Refiners Over Gasoline Prices, Answering Call From Consumer Watchdog 16 Months Ago

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Jamie Court & Cody Rosenfield

Santa Monica, CA - The Wall Street Journal is reporting that major California oil refiners are receiving subpoenas related to manipulating the gasoline supply to raise gasoline prices in the state.

Consumer Watchdog provided evidence to the California Attorney General’s office one year ago today that refiners were using their market leverage to keep gasoline prices more than $1.00 above the US average.   The nonprofit group first wrote Attorney General Harris calling for an investigation on February 6, 2015 following suspicious refinery outages, then again on February 18th on the day of the Exxon Torrance explosion.

Californians paid more than $10 billion extra at the pump during 2015 compared to US drivers because of inflated gasoline prices and record refiner profits. Consumer Watchdog presented repeated testimony to a California Energy Commission taskforce, which included the Attorney General’s anti-trust chief, demonstrating supply and price manipulation by California oil refiners.

“California drivers have paid billions extra to pad the record profits of California oil refiners, It’s past time for answers to the question of why refiners kept California running on empty so that they could charge us one dollar more per gallon at the pump,” said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court. “We’re pleased that a formal legal inquiry with potential consequences is underway.  California’s oil refiners will continue to gouge the Golden State until there are consequences for their actions.  Oil refiners need to answer for perennial supply shortages, inflated prices and record California refining profits in 2015.”

Consumer Watchdog has pointed to the failure of refiners to import product, excessive exports, inability to keep refineries running, and refiners’ ability to overcharge branded stations in Southern California as ways of artificially inflating prices.

Read the letters and analysis calling for investigation

2/18/15: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/two-refineries-down-gas-prices-consumer-watchdog-calls-site-inspections-investigate-pric

2/6/15 http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-urges-ca-attorney-general-and-regulators-investigate-tesoro%E2%80%99s-martinez

Analysis of the crisis to Attorney General on June 30th, 2015: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-presents-evidence-attorney-general-state-oil-refiners%E2%80%99-unprecedented-m

Wall Street Journal June 30, 2016: http://www.wsj.com/articles/california-attorney-general-investigating-major-oil-refiners-1467302726

Consumer Watchdog’s reports on California market manipulation

Against the Tide: How Missing Tankers Pumped Up Gas Prices and Refiner Profits
2/8/16
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/reportagainstthetide.pdf

Oil Slicked: How Refiners Spend Millions to Protect Billions in Record Profits.
11/19/15
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/OilProfitReportQ32015.pdf

Golden State Gouge: The Summer of Record Refining Profits
8/5/15
http://consumerwatchdog.org/resources/thegoldenstategouge.pdf

Wholesale Gasoline Market Analysis
6/30/15
http://consumerwatchdog.org/resources/wholesalegasolinemanipulaitonanalysis.pdf

Refining Profits: How Californians Get Fleeced At The Pump
5/5/15
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/refiningprofits.pdf

Price Spiked: How Oil Refiners Gouge Californians on Their Gasoline
3/24/15
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/PriceSpiked.pdf

Pump Jacking California’s Climate Protection: The threat of Oil Industry Influence & Market Manipulation
12/17/14
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/OilIndustryManipulationReport.pdf