"The Golden State Gouge!"

Consumer Watchdog's Jamie Court calls it "The Golden State Gouge!" He's talking about how oil companies are making big bucks off the recent price spike. He and California billionaire Tom Steyer want legislators to get a better handle on these companies.

They want more regulation. Court says the gap between what Californians pay per gallon and drivers in other states is big. He says, "Californians are now paying a $1.30 above what the rest of America is paying for it's gas."

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Steyer says, he wants Legislators to make refiners ...

*disclose profits and taxes paid to the State

*Give the public advance notice of planned maintenance and outages

*To have a plan for maintaining minimum reserves to prevent price spikes

*And, increase penalties for illegally conspiring to raise gas prices.

Court says it's very important to do this. He points to new statistics. He says, "A buck-61 of every gallon is going right to the refiner's when its usually 48 cents." He adds, the gap between gas prices for California versus other states is a gap "that has bled Californians of almost 5-billion-dollars."

Environmentalist Steyer says, "This is a situation that cries out for action on the part of elected officials." He says, consumers "...are over a barrel. But, somebody has got to standup and say you don't have a right to do it. We want the market fixed." It's a market he calls dysfunctional.

Western States Petroleum Association Spokesman Tupper Hull says the gap is because of such things as higher taxes in California and the unique lends that are required to meet air quality standards. He says they are more expensive to make. But, he adds, that these margins include all costs and are not just profit.

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