Liberal coalition urges Harris to scrutinize gas prices in AB 32 feud

08/19/2014 11:29 AM

08/25/2014 1:55 PM

A coalition of unions, environmental organizations and other liberal groups are trying to enlist Attorney General Kamala Harris in their efforts to beat back an oil industry campaign to scuttle the state’s plan to expand its cap-and-trade program to vehicle fuels in January.

Signed by representatives of the Courage Campaign, SEIU and NextGen Climate –whose founder, billionaire philantrapist Tom Steyer, has pledged to spend millions this year opposing candidates who deny climate change – a letter to Harris on Tuesday suggests that the oil industry will collude to raise gas prices if the regulation takes effect.

“Your office has been a leader in efforts to protect consumers, and we trust that you will take these issues seriously,” the letter reads. “We look forward to supporting your efforts to closely monitor the situation and ensure oil companies in California aren’t unlawfully colluding to manipulate prices and manufacturing political dissent.”

The expansion is part of the state’s landmark AB 32, the 2006 law meant to reduce heat-trapping gases. But critics contend that the regulation would force oil companies to pass on higher costs at the pump. The inudstry-backed “Fed Up at the Pump” campaign has tried to generate public opposition to the plan. Forty state lawmakers, including 16 Assembly Democrats, have formally urged the Brown administration to back off the regulation.

“If this goes through as planned, in places like the Valley and other communities where money’s tight, another 15 cents a gallon?” Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, a critic of the plan, said in June.

The Brown administration has said it has no plans to repeal or delay the regulation. A spokesman for the Brown-appointed California Air Resources Board has said the agency does not believe the expansion will lead to “any discernible increase in pricing” next year.

Here is the letter to Harris:

Letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris from supporters of AB 32 vehicle fuel expansion

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