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Consumer Watchdog's Reports

Over the last fifteen years Consumer Watchdog has produced reports on a variety of issues facing consumers across the nation, including the environment, energy, privacy, technology, patient safety and insurance reform.
Power Play
By Liza Tucker
August 1st, 2017
Ever since Governor Jerry Brown took office in 2011, energy services holding company Sempra and its regulated subsidiaries have benefitted from decisions by state regulators that favor Sempra’s bottom line over public safety and reasonable utility rates. Under Brown, Sempra’s market capitalization has almost tripled to $28 billion, and its stock price has risen 117 percent.1 Sixty four percent of that increase in capitalization came in the wake of the company naming Brown’s sister Kathleen to its board in 2013. For her service to Sempra, Kathleen Brown has earned more than $1 million in cash, stock and other benefits.
How Green Is Brown?
By Liza Tucker
February 6, 2017
This groundbreaking Consumer Watchdog report investigated California Governor Jerry Brown's environmental record since he assumed office in 2011. The report focused on seven environmantal issues that face the state, and provided a grade for Brown's actions on each topic. Brown's track-record shows that on most of these issues, he is not nearly as 'green' as he claims to be. The following groups concur with the report's analysis, conclusions, and recommendations: Food & Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Rootskeeper, Powers Engineering, Basin & Range Watch, Aguirre & Severson LLP, Public Watchdogs, the Southern California Watershed Alliance, the Desal Response Group, Restore the Delta, and Committee to Bridge the Gap.
Brown's Dirty Hands
By Liza Tucker
August 10, 2016
This report showed that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million.
Against the Tide: How Missing Tankers Pumped Up Gas Prices and Refiner Profits
By Cody Rosenfield
February 8, 2016
This report used ship-tracking data, petroleum market information, and state Lands Commission data to analyze imports and exports of gasoline and blendstocks going in and out of California in the first nine months of 2015. The report found that refiners calibrated imports and exports to inflate gas prices and make record profits. Exxon did not import to refill the lost production of their Torrance refinery, while Chevron exported more than 250 million gallons of gasoline. The study found an Exxon vessel was sitting suspiciously in Singapore for 70 days during the California price crisis.

Oil Slicked: How Refiners Spend Millions to Protect Billions in Record Profits.
By Jamie Court, Cody Rosenfield and Liza Tucker
November 19, 2015
This report analyzes the profits of California's major oil companies in the third quarter of 2015. The report shows each refiner more than tripled its average quarterly profits. Simultaneously, most of these companies spent record amounts on lobbying the California legislature, protecting the lucrative petroleum business in California.  

Golden State Gouge: The Summer of Record Refining Profits

By Cody Rosenfield and Liza Tucker
August 5, 2015
This report analyzes the growing profits of California's major refiners in the second quarter of 2015, which saw a record price spike. The report also analyzes state data regarding refiner costs & profits, which reached record highs during the quarter.

Wholesale Gasoline Market Analysis

July 30, 2015
This analysis was provided to the California Attorney General's office and the California Energy Commission and laid out evidence of market manipulation by the state's largest refiners. During California's 2015 price spike, refiners began charging their own branded stations a record 30-cents more than they charged independent stations for the same gasoline. Evidence shows that this strategy artificially inflated prices across the state.  
Refining Profits: How Californians Get Fleeced At The Pump
By Jamie Court, Cody Rosenfield and Liza Tucker
May 5, 2015
This report analyzed California oil refiner profits over the last decade, finding that price spikes corresponded with huge profits for the oil industry.
Price Spiked: How Oil Refiners Gouge Californians on Their Gasoline
By Jamie Court, Cody Rosenfield and Liza Tucker
March 24, 2015

This report analyzed California’s history of price spikes, calculating the cost to consumers in 2015. It found that refiners keep less reserve in the state, leading to instability when disruptions in production occur. Solutions include increased transparency and more reserves.
Pump Jacking California’s Climate Protection: The threat of Oil Industry Influence & Market Manipulation
December 17, 2014
Pump Jakcing chronicles the tactics used by the oil industry in California to attack environmental regulations. The report predicted supply and price manipulation that would be used to undermine California’s clean energy initiatives.
Inside Job: How Boeing Fixers Captured Regulators and Derailed a Nuclear and Chemical Clean in LA’s Backyard
By Liza Tucker
June, 2014

This report analyzed the California Department of Toxic Substances Control response to environmental damage perpetrated by Boeing. Public Records Act requests provided information on how polluters came to dominate their regulators at the expense of the public.
Keystone XL: Oil Industry Cash Machine
By Judy Dugan and Tim Hamilton
July 16, 2013

This report analyzes the potential impact of the Keystone XL on drivers across the country. Findings showed that were the pipeline built, prices would rise in many parts of the nation, and that oil companies would make huge profits.
Golden Wasteland: Regulating Toxics, or Toxic Regulation?
By Liza Tucker
February 20, 2013

This report revealed the failings of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to fulfill its mandate to keep California clean. Pro-business bias, fear of political criticism, and mission fatigue are displayed in the workings of the DTSC.
Valero Energy and Its California Profit Pipeline
By Judy Dugan and Douglas Heller
October 12, 2010

A review of public information showed that Texas-based refiner Valero is profiteering off of California’s high gas prices.
The Road to Cleaner & Cheaper: A Handbook of Transportation and Related Energy Choices
By Judy Dugan
May 19, 2009

The report chronicles solutions to the United States transportation addiction, and what policies should be used to effectively monitor and regulate the oil industry as well as achieve a competitive clean energy future.
The Causes and Effects of the Record Breaking Price of Diesel: Putting the brakes on America’s Economy in 2008
By Judy Dugan and Tim Hamilton
July 1, 2008

An analysis of a Diesel price spike shows the impact on the economy and how manipulation of the Diesel market reaches all of our pocketbooks.
The “Katrina Syndrome”: Low Supplies = High Profits in 2007
By Tim Hamilton
July 23, 2007

This report chronicles how gasoline price spikes have had the same impact as Hurricane Katrina, and how low supplies and production are used to raise the price of gasoline.
The Changing Relationship Between the Price of Crude Oil and the Price At the Pump
By Tim Hamilton
May 3, 2007

This analysis shows that the price of gasoline is becoming less dependent on the cost of Crude Oil, and how oil companies are making big profits off of price spikes.
Consumers are Charged More As A Result of Google’s Search Monopoly
November, 2013
Analysis shows that consumers end up paying more for products because of Google’s monopoly on the search market.
Google+: A Playground for Online Predators
December, 2013
This report chronicles the privacy loopholes in the Google+ social network that have made the service dangerous for its users.
Lost in the Cloud: Google and the U.S. Government
January, 2011
This report analyzes the quest for influence in the US government being perpetrated by Google. One of the most visible signs of Google’s clout is a deal between the NASA and the company to allow Google executives to use the base for their flight needs.
Liars and Loans: How Deceptive Advertisers Use Google
February, 2011
This report chronicles how Google has profited from deceptive advertising that allowed fraudulent operators to use their system to advertise deceptive mortgage deals.
How Google is Squeezing out Competitors and Muscling Into New Markets
Affordability, Accessibility & Accountability in California Stem Cell Research
By John M. Simpson
January, 2006

This report provides a path for how to ensure that the public benefits from Proposition 71, which promised investment in medical therapies, and that private biotech companies do not influence these policies.
False Accounting: How Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies Inflate Losses to Justify Sudden Surges in Rates and Tort Reform
December, 2005
This study showed that medical malpractice insurance companies in California inflated their loss projections in order to justify higher rates and blame it on lawyers.
How Insurance Reform Lowered Doctors’ Medical Malpractice Rates in California
March 7, 2003
This report shows how California’s landmark Proposition 103 has lowered Medical Malpractice rates for doctors across the state. It also shows how caps on damages have not succeeded in controlling costs.
Projected Savings From Proposition 45
August 6, 2014
This report analyzed the potential savings to California consumers if Proposition 45 passed in November of 2014. The initiative would have forced health insurance companies to justify their rates.
Consumer Federation of America: Prop 103 Has Saved 100 Billion Dollars
By the Consumer Federation of America, J. Robert Hunter, Tom Feltner, Douglas Heller
November 12, 2013

This analysis of California’s landmark insurance reform initiative Proposition 103 shows how much money consumers have saved.
Health Reform and Insurance Regulation: Can’t Have One Without the Other
By Judy Dugan and Carmen Balber
May 2011

This report shows that any health reform bill must include prior approval of rates for it to be successful.

Consumer Impostors: The Big Business Deception Behind Prop 200, 201 & 202

By Jamie Court

March 1996