The state Senate on Thursday passed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s measure to penalize oil companies for high gas prices. Moderate Democrats reluctantly supported the bill, echoing several comments from Republican opponents of the measure.
Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena, argued the Legislature “is not blameless” when it comes to high prices. He said Sacramento’s policies have contributed to more than half of California’s refineries shutting down in the last two decades, forcing the state to rely more on imports to meet supply needs. Bradford also suggested his colleagues were conflating regulatory factors with market manipulation.

Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil of Modesto was the lone Democrat to vote against the measure.

Many of the arguments ran along similar lines to debates over agricultural policies. GOP Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield stressed that the oil producers in her district are price takers, not price makers. Republican Sen. Brian Dahle of Bieber argued that many Californians will still pay high fuel prices after the state phases out the sale of gas and diesel engines.
“I’m a farmer,” said Dahle. “We use combustible diesel on our farm. And we’ll be using it in 2035.”