February 20, 2007
CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522 ext. 305, cell 213-280-0175, or Jamie Court, ext. 327, cell 310-874-9989, or Tim Hamilton, 360-495-4941
Group sees oil companies setting up state’s motorists for another summer price crisis
Santa Monica, CA — California’s gasoline price of $2.71 is nearly 24 cents a gallon above last year’s price at this time, according to the weekly report of the federal Energy Information Administration. Yet crude oil prices are slightly less than they were a year ago at this time, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. A sharply widening gap between gasoline and crude oil prices, year over year, is setting up California motorists for another spring and summer of intolerably high gasoline prices, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan FTCR.
"The oil companies’ chief line of argument on gasoline prices is that they are tightly linked to crude oil prices," said Judy Dugan, research director of FTCR. "In California, they are obviously being decoupled for another season of blatant price gouging."
California gasoline topped out last May at $3.38 for a gallon of regular, and the price stayed above $3 all summer.
Data compiled by independent oil analyst Tim Hamilton from weekly federal Energy Information Administration reports show that the price decoupling is a trend that has developed since the beginning of the year. See his chart showing last year’s oil and gasoline prices compared to this year’s.
"These figures show that gasoline prices are not about the price of oil but about maximizing the already obscene profits of oil companies and their refiners," said Dugan. "At the rate gasoline prices are rising in California, $3.00 for regular is just around the corner — unless lawmakers step up and demand change."
FTCR has urged Congress and state government to update price-gouging laws to account for such excess profit taking at the refinery level, rather than just at the retail level.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is the state’s leading consumer watchdog group. For more information, visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.