Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and...Gas Price Spikes

State Senate leader Kevin de Leon had some fun with critics as he pushed for unprecedented climate change legislation this week. 

On the Senate floor as he spoke about SB 350, which calls for a dramatic reduction in petroleum use, greater energy efficiency in buildings,  and increasing renewable sources, the Los Angeles Democrat said trying to figure out how gas prices are "actually formulated" is one of the great mysteries of the world, like the Bermuda Triangle, Roswell and Area 51. 

Oil refineries have continually blamed higher gas prices on Cap and Trade provisions, and have said that SB 350 would vastly increase costs for drivers. 

The timing of overlapping outages raises questions about their true necessity, and about whether some refinery capacity may have been taken off line in order to drive up prices and profits for oil refiners at a time when some of their crude operations have been yielding less profits, according Consumer Watchdog. 

Since the beginning of February, California’s 14 oil refineries have suffered ten serious slowdowns or shutdowns, many due to questionable causes or timing, our analysts have found. Experts have publicly and privately stated to us that they have never seen so many refineries down for planned and unplanned maintenance at this time of the year.  Consumer Watchdog documented the pattern of outages using information from industry sources, print media and trade publications, and from the Oil Price Information Service.
According to Energy Information Administration data analyzed by Consumer Watchdog, oil companies exported more gasoline from the West Coast to foreign nations in the month of December 2014 than ever in the nation’s history.
The exports came just one month before California experienced a “supply crisis” that has raised gasoline prices in California over a dollar above the national average – the largest difference in history. Californians paid $3.6 billion more for their gasoline than the average US motorist based on the added pump price from February through May and consumption
On recent investor calls, oil refineries’ company executives said that the ‘maintenance’ problems and other ‘disruptions’ at their refineries have been a huge boon for the California companies at a time when crude oil prices are at historic lows. 

Capitol Watchdog is owned and operated by nonprofit Consumer Watchdog. For more information about Consumer Watchdog visit