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California Governor Escalates the War on Gasoline Impacting Neighboring States

The War on Gasoline a Gift to Trump

The Wall Street Journal says Gavin Newsom’s War on Gasoline Is a Gift to Donald Trump.

California’s prices are the highest in the country—$5.21 a gallon on average vs. $3.59 nationwide—owing to hefty taxes and burdensome regulations, such as its cap-and-trade program and low-carbon fuel standard. Here’s the rub: California refineries supply nearly 90% of Nevada’s gasoline and half of Arizona’s.

Mr. Newsom is escalating his war on the industry. The California Energy Commission is planning to impose a tax on refineries’ “gross margins”—i.e., the difference between wholesale gasoline and crude prices plus certain regulatory costs. The gross margin notably doesn’t include refiners’ operating costs, which include employee pay.

Mr. Newsom conflates profits and gross margins. According to the commission’s data, refiners lost between 10 and 38 cents on each gallon they produced from October 2023 through February 2024, while their gross margins ranged from 56 to 79 cents a gallon. In December, California refineries lost 31 cents a gallon while the state imposed $1.15 a gallon in taxes and regulatory fees.

The price gougers in Sacramento now want to penalize drivers even more. Mr. Newsom is pushing the commission to finalize the refinery tax at the same time as the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, prepares to tighten its low-carbon fuel standard and greenhouse-gas emissions cap. These regulations add about 54 cents to the price of each gallon of gasoline. CARB’s rules will increase the cost by an estimated 88 cents a gallon in 2026 and $1.01 by 2031.

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