For the last decade and a half, Consumer Watchdog has chronicled through a series of reports how California’s oil companies, much like Enron and other energy companies did during the Energy Crisis, have cut back on production to drive up prices at critical moments.

With the passage of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the stakes have never been higher.  In our latest report, Pump Jacking California’s Climate Protection (, we warned that the states refiners could manipulate production in order to falsely claim that these new regulations were causing price spikes. We urged state officials to vow to investigate any drop-offs in production. Since California is seen as a lab for environmental regulations, the future of climate protection is on the line. Consumer Watchdog will remain vigilant in our task to expose deceit and wrongdoing by the state’s refiners.

The predictions turned out to be right. In 2015, drivers in California paid over $1.50 more than the national average per gallon of gasoline. Oil refiners in California saw record profits due to the outage of one of ExxonMobil's California refineries. Consumer Watchdog chronicled the outrageous tactics used by oil companies to keep gas prices high in the golden state. The constant pressure from the organization prompted an investigation from the California Attorney General into the pricing practices. Consumer Watchdog continues to monitor the market and provide information to regulators, investigators, and the public about oil refiner market manipulation.

These practices are by no means new. Beginning with participation on the California Attorney General's Taskforce on Gas Pricing in the late 1990s, Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court and petroleum analyst Tim Hamilton began birddogging oil companies over their manipulation of the price of gasoline.  Research Director Judy Dugan later joined the team to develop Oil Watchdog, which exposed the hidden hand of oil companies over price and supply manipulation, as well as discuss the path to cleaner/cheaper energy.  

In California, OilWatchdog exposed the profit motive of major Texas-based oil refiner Valero when it poured $5 million into a ballot initiative that aimed at stopping California's green energy industries in their tracks. Our report showed the initiative's "Save Jobs" motif was a lie--it was all about keeping gasoline prices high and preventing competition.

Despite what the oil companies and their captive politicians say about the cost of clean energy, OilWatchdog's Cleaner and Cheaper Energy report sketched a path to a transportation future that is practical and affordable, giving technologies from electric cars to hydrogen fuel grades from "A" to "F".

From BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill to natural gas that's not so safe after all, OilWatchdog looks for the spin, the influence, and the ethical misconduct that keep these companies wallowing in profit. It welcomes courageous whistleblowers. Knowing how corporate influence works is the first step to changing it.

To check out all of our reports on California’s oil industry, you can view a complete list of our reports below:

Presentation to the California Energy Commission - Oil Refiners Cutting Production to Reduce Supply
Brown's Dirty Hands
By Liza Tucker
Presentation to the California Energy Commission - Supply and Demand No Longer Exists in the California Gasoline Market
Presentation to the California Energy Commission - Consumer Watchdog Calls for Transparency in Gasoline Markets to Avert Price Spikes
Against the Tide: How Missing Tankers Pumped Up Gas Prices and Refiner Profits
By Cody Rosenfield
Oil Slicked: How Refiners Spend Millions to Protect Billions in Record Profits.
By Jamie Court, Cody Rosenfield and Liza Tucker

Golden State Gouge: The Summer of Record Refining Profits
August 5, 2015

Wholesale Gasoline Market Analysis
June 30, 2015

Refining Profits: How Californians Get Fleeced at the Pump
May 5, 2015

Price Spiked: How Oil Refiners Gouge Californians on Their Gasoline
March 24, 2015


Pump Jacking California’s Climate Protection
December 15, 2014


Keystone XL: Oil Industry Cash Machine
July 16, 2013


Valero Energy and Its California Profit Pipeline
October 12, 2010


The Road to Cleaner & Cheaper
May 19, 2009


The Causes and Effects of the Record Breaking Price of Diesel
July 1, 2008


The “Katrina Syndrome”
July 23, 2007


The Changing Relationship Between the Price of Crude Oil and the Price At the Pump
May 3, 2007