SacBee editorial on California's high gas prices questions priorities for Ashby, Nguyen

Even though California gasoline prices have come down in recent weeks, the issue of exorbitant gasoline prices and energy company profits on the backs of consumers is still generating interest. Along with consumer interest groups and elected officials addressing high gas prices, the problem has been a legislative priority for Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

The editorial board today stated their case for legislative action to address the issue. As they pointed out, notwithstanding stricter environmental standards compared to other states, California motorists face substantially higher gasoline costs than other American consumers (a PDF of he SacBee editorial can be viewed below).

Newsom and many others have argued, and SacBee agrees, that an excess profit tax should be levied on the five refiners operating in California. Although their stance is not surprising, the SacBee took the opportunity to send a warning to two newly elected officials representing Sacramento and Elk Grove, State Senator Angelique Ashby and Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen.  

Noting both received hefty campaign contributions tied to big oil, the editorial ended pondering who they would represent - big oil or consumers. The editorial said:

The refiners were noticeably generous in helping to elect some of the Legislature’s newest members, among them Sacramento area Democrats Angelique Ashby and Stephanie Nguyen. How they respond to this challenge will reveal much about what and whom they represent.

Ashby and Nguyen are moderate, business-friendly Democrats. Ashby defeated former Assemblymember and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who was targeted in last year's state senate campaign by big oil interests for his stances on climate change.

Nguyen defeated Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra, who, while not as strident in climate changes as Jones, was not viewed as favorably as Nguyen by big oil. It's worth noting the SacBee editorial board endorsed Guerra and Jones.

While California gas prices are low, for now, world or domestic political events be used to spike gasoline prices higher again for Californians. While Ashby and Nguyen are probably secure in their respective seats until they are termed out, excessively high gas prices and who they support - big oil or consumers - could be an explosive issue that could dent their incumbency shield.       

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