Feinstine asks FTC to investigate CA gas prices

By LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

From the office of Senator Diane Feinstein

“We are prevented by law from commenting on political campaigns but Senator Feinstein is focused on the work of the current Congress and serving on behalf of Californians.”

The Senator sends press releases frequently. The following was issued on April 6, 2022:

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) on week of April 6 2022 joined Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether trading practices used to set benchmark gas prices may have played a role in artificially elevating wholesale petroleum prices in West Coast states.

“We are concerned that current prices borne by consumers at the pump are disproportionate to the rise and subsequent decline in the price of crude oil over the past month and cannot be fully explained by supply and demand fundamentals,” the senators wrote in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “In particular, we request that you investigate any trading practices involved in setting benchmark indices and any role those practices may have or had in artificially elevating wholesale petroleum prices in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.”

Background:

Gas prices in California are currently averaging nearly $6 per gallon, up from $3.42 per gallon in March 2019.

Since 2005, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigators have found more than $520 million in illegal profits gained by petroleum companies manipulating markets to exploit consumers. FERC’s investigations have resulted in 127 settlement agreements and $790 million in civil penalties.

The California Energy Commission in 2019 found the following: “The overall California increase in retail margins, above that experienced by the rest of the U.S., has resulted in California gasoline consumers paying an estimated additional $1.5 billion in 2018 and $11.6 billion over the last five years.”

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that between February 2015 and October 2018, alleged price gouging at California gas stations led to a price increase of more $17 billion, or about $1,700 for a family of four.

Story First Published: 2022-04-29