Category Archives: Big Oil

Governor Newsom Convenes Special Session to Hold Oil Industry Accountable for Price Gouging

Valero’s $2.82 billion in profits were 500% higher than the year before.

Newsroom, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, Nov 30, 2022

SACRAMENTO – As oil companies continue to evade questions about unexplained gas price increases, Governor Gavin Newsom today convened a special session of the California Legislature on December 5 to pass a price gouging penalty on oil companies that will keep money in Californians’ pockets.

The Governor’s action comes on the heels of a state hearing  yesterday – which five major oil refiners refused to attend – to investigate this fall’s unprecedented spike in gasoline prices. This spike in gasoline prices resulted in record refiner profits of $63 billion in just 90 days, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income families.

“Big oil is ripping Californians off, and the deafening silence from the industry yesterday is the latest proof that a price gouging penalty is needed to hold them accountable for profiteering at the expense of California families,” said Governor Newsom. “I’m calling a special session of the Legislature to do just that, and to increase transparency on pricing and protect Californians from outrageous price spikes in the future.”

Governor Newsom signs proclamation convening a special session to pass price gouging penalty on oil companies

This fall’s spike occurred while crude oil prices dropped, state taxes and fees remained unchanged and gas prices did not increase outside the western U.S., so the high prices went straight to the industry’s bottom line.

The text of the Governor’s proclamation convening a special session can be found here.

During the special session, the Legislature will also consider efforts to empower state agencies to more closely review gas costs, profits and pricing as well provide the state with greater regulatory oversight of the refining, distribution and retailing segments of the gasoline market in California.

Taking action to lower prices at the pump, Governor Newsom in September ordered the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanded accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California. Since California’s record-high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $4.95 most recently – a decrease of $1.47 since the peak.

In the third quarter of 2022, from July to September, oil companies reported record high profits:

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Clean Politics and Valero – video from 2019 and 2022

Valero spokesperson refused to promise fair campaigns, Air District exposes Valero’s multi-year toxic emissions

At 2019 public presentation by Valero in Benicia, Paul Adler, Valero Benicia’s Director of Government Affairs and Community Relations, declined to respond to a question regarding the refinery’s interfering in local Benicia elections.

Benicia resident Andrés Soto was in the audience, and posed a question during Q&A. Recalling Valero’s malicious attacks in Benicia’s 2018 election, Mr. Soto posed a question: “You say you want to be a ‘good neighbor.’ Will you pledge not to conduct a similar negative campaign in the local elections in 2020, and let Benicians make their own decisions?” Mr. Adler’s refused to make the pledge.

The Valero funded PAC went on to mount a massive effort to buy the Mayor’s seat in 2020 – including misleading and demeaning ads, and has once again in 2022 spent large sums on phone polling, mailers and social media.

This video shifts midway to a March, 2022 Benicia City Council presentation by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. At that meeting, air quality experts informed the city leaders and residents of serious huge multi-year toxic emissions violations heretofore unreported by the Valero Refinery.

See also, “City Leaders in Benicia not happy to learn recently that the Valero was emitting excessive amounts of hazardous chemicals for over a decade.

 

Ukraine war – follow the money!

Putin’s War: possibly a would-be emperor’s war, but most assuredly an OIL WAR!

Every news analysis I’ve seen of Russia’s criminally ruthless war against Ukraine has focused on Putin’s nationalistic dream of the resurrection of the old Soviet Union and his Czarist ambitions.

But what about the more convincing economic reasons for the war?  Where are our major news outlets, including the progressive ones like MSNBC and CNN when it comes to the proven political wisdom, FOLLOW THE MONEY?

Here’s an eye-opening post I found on an old friend’s Facebook page (thank you, Betsy Collins, originally posted by Christopher Goodfellow,)  “From Price Wars by Rupert Russell….The chapter on Ukraine is interesting….if anything this explains Donbas and getting the ring around from Donbas to Odessa to get Control of the Black Sea oil there.”  Read on…


MORE: Christopher Goodfellow posted several later FB messages that are even more detailed and illuminating:



Benicia’s mayor calls out Valero’s big war chest ahead of election

The Vallejo Sun, By John Glidden, Feb 15, 2022

The Valero Benicia refinery

BENICIA – Mayor Steve Young says he’s displeased that Valero Benicia Refinery is poised once again to spend a large sum of money during the upcoming city council election.

The refinery dumped $200,000 into its Working Families for a Strong Benicia PAC last December, giving the PAC more than $232,000 ahead of the November 2022 election, according to campaign forms submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office.

Benicia Mayor Steve Young.
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Typically, a Benicia council candidate can expect to receive more than $20,000 in contributions over the span of an election or about 10% of what Valero has available.

The move has revitalized conversation in town between environmentalists seeking more regulations, the company, and local unions that are concerned that city officials want to shut down the plant.

Valero couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Young — who said he issued his statement over the weekend only as a Benicia resident and not as mayor — admitted that what Valero was doing was legal but argued “it is wrong-and extremely harmful to our community.”

“There is only one purpose in making such a huge expenditure nine months before the election: to scare off any potential City Council candidate who would consider running without first getting Valero’s stamp of approval,” Young’s statement read. “What candidate is willing to go up against that kind of war chest?”

Valero opened its PAC ahead of the 2018 city council elections, ultimately backing Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge. Both were elected. The PAC publicly opposed Benicia Planning Commissioner Kari Birdseye. Two years later, the PAC once again backed Strawbridge, this time as she made a mayoral bid, while opposing Young. Despite the PAC spending $250,000 during that election, Young was elected.

Young and Birdseye served on the planning commission together when the body rejected the company’s crude-by-rail proposal in early 2016. The Benicia City Council went on to reject the project later that year.

Young wrote that Valero should have a say in the election but “they should also play by the same rules that apply to everyone else under our campaign finance regulations.”

Young said the city’s campaign laws allow a candidate to spend no more than $35,000 on a campaign. He argued Valero should be held to the same rule.

“But Valero’s size and wealth gives them the belief that they can pick and choose who should be our elected representatives,” Young added.

Young said that to stop Valero every council candidate should reject support it receives from the company.

“In addition, voters should demand that any candidate take a public and ongoing stand that Valero should not support their campaign in any way,” Young added. “I call on all prospective candidates in the November election to make this pledge. If no candidate is willing to be supported by this PAC, where will they spend all of their money?”

Young’s statement comes as the Valero refinery has been receiving some negative attention.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced in January that it was seeking a legally binding order against the refinery to correct “significant excess emissions violations.” The district alleges that Valero didn’t report that more than 8,000 tons of excess emissions came from the plant over a 16-year period.

Last November, a contractor was found dead hanging from a scaffolding ladder by his safety harness over a piece of refinery equipment.

Valero is the largest employer in Benicia, employing more than 400 people. The plant processed 165,000 barrels of oil each day, according to its website.

Campaign records show that from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, the PAC spent more than $5,000 with Sacramento-based Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leonli LLP for campaign services.

Young, who has opened a 2024 re-election campaign, reported raising no contributions and only spending $29 during the second half of 2021. The campaign reported having about $900.

Meanwhile, both Largaespada and Strawbridge, who are up for re-election this November, reported no activity during the same period.