“Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer said Friday that he’s considering putting an oil-extraction tax on next year’s California ballot, increasing pressure on refiners amid a surge in gasoline prices and possibly raising the stakes on his climate change crusade,” reports The Sacramento Bee. The article continues:
Steyer, standing in front of a chart illustrating the recent price rise at the gas pump, said he may link a tax proposal with the requirement that oil companies disclose more information about their supplies and prices. . . . “There’s a huge human justice issue here about whether hardworking Californians are paying way too much for gasoline and the companies are being able to manipulate it . . . and triple their profits,” Steyer told reporters at the California Democratic Party convention in Anaheim, where he plans to meet with delegates and other officials to gather input. . . . California is one of 22 oil-producing states that don’t charge an oil-extraction tax. A 10 percent excise tax would raise about $2 billion annually.
Although conspiracy theories are typically worth less than squat, I must nonetheless comment briefly on the recent rise in gas prices, because Steyer has what it takes to get Democratic pols singing from the same sheet of music.
- Gas is still a dollar cheaper than it was in May 2014.
- Gas prices tend to rise every year after January as refineries switch over from winter to summer gas, which is more costly to produce, and as demand increases with the onset of summer driving season.
- “[R]obust U.S. gasoline consumption and exports, and increased demand for gasoline in Europe and Asia” are factors pushing up current prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- The Federal Trade Commission hasn’t said a peep lately about unlawful market manipulation.
But here’s the thesis I would submit for your consideration. Steyer is a false foe of high gas prices. His proposed excise tax would squeeze the “hardworking Californians” about whom he professes to care.