Oil Company Lawsuit Will Boost Pump Prices, Newsom’s Presidential Profile

Oil Company Lawsuit Will Boost Pump Prices, Newsom’s Presidential Profile

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in the rotunda of the California State Capitol in Sacramento on March 28, 2023. (Courtesy of the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

John Seiler

John Seiler


Updated: 9/26/2023

Lately, I’ve dreaded more than ever filling up my aging, wheezing 2010 Camry. I’d love to buy a new, $110,000 Tesla. But I don’t make the salary of a government functionary, and my apartment complex doesn’t have charging stations.
I keep track of my gas purchases. When I just went to Costco, it was $5.79 a gallon for premium. That’s up from $4.30 in January. A 35 percent increase just this year. With more likely to come.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently filed a lawsuit against the five biggest oil companies “for allegedly engaging in a decades-long campaign of deception and creating statewide climate change-related harms in California,” according to Mr. Bonta’s announcement, which reads:
“Filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, the complaint asserts that although the companies have known since at least the 1960s that the burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet and change our climate, they denied or downplayed climate change in public statements and marketing. As detailed in the complaint, California has spent tens of billions of dollars to adapt to climate change and address the damages climate change has caused so far, and the state will need to spend multiples of that in the years to come.”
Notice the amount: “tens of billions of dollars.”
Mr. Newsom added in his statement: “Oil executives deceived the public for decades about how fossil fuels are hurting our health and destroying our planet, protecting their own profits while sticking taxpayers with the bill for the damages. California is suing these big polluters to hold them accountable for their decades of deception, cover-up, and billions of dollars in harm done to our state.”
Again: “billions of dollars.”
Gas prices are displayed at a Chevron station in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Gas prices are displayed at a Chevron station in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Consumers Will Pay

Let’s be clear who’s really going to pay for this. As Mr. Newsom knows, because he owns some restaurants, companies have to make a profit. If costs go up, those added expenses are either passed to the customer or the company goes broke—or if it’s a big company, it will halt unprofitable operations.
In this case, the costs will be passed directly to consumers at the gas pump. And it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of these five companies decided it couldn’t afford to operate any longer in California. If that happens, competition will decline, further boosting costs at the pump.
Let’s remember that Mr. Newsom earlier this year pushed into law Senate Bill X1-2. It set up a new bureaucracy, the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight, to control gas prices and will only encourage higher prices by increasing companies’ compliance costs. As I wrote in The Epoch Times on Aug. 11, it’s a key strategy in deflecting attention from California’s high gas prices should the governor run for president. I noted that prices had just risen above $5. Now, it’s almost $6.
The new lawsuit is based on the alleged existence of “climate change” caused by us evil, fossil-fuel-burning humans. But it’s all bogus. Jan Jekielek and Mimi Nguyen Ly just reported in The Epoch Times that Nobel laureate John Clauser had challenged prevailing climate models.
“Mr. Clauser, who was a recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to quantum mechanics, holds degrees from Caltech and Columbia University,“ They wrote. ”He has served in roles at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the University of California–Berkeley. In 2010, he was honored with a portion of the Wolf Prize in Physics.”
By contrast, Mr. Bonta is a lawyer and Mr. Newsom is a restaurateur.
The article continues: “Recently, Mr. Clauser joined another Nobel laureate and more than 1,600 professionals in signing the World Climate Declaration (WCD) organized by Climate Intelligence. This declaration asserts that there’s no ‘climate emergency,’ that climate change science isn’t conclusive, and that the Earth’s history over thousands of years shows a consistently changing climate. ...
“Mr. Clauser observed that the drive to address human-induced climate change is increasingly shaping political agendas and influencing the strategic direction of entire nations.
“'The whole world is doing all of this. A lot of the pressure is actually coming from Europe, all of these various world conferences,’ he said, speculating that much of this push might have its roots in [former Vice President Al] Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ which he feels has incorporated inaccurate science.
“Mr. Gore’s film claims that humanity is triggering a dire climate crisis that necessitates global action. But Mr. Clauser said that ‘”climate change“ is actually very dishonest disinformation that has been presented by various politicians.’”
World leaders and delegates gather at a summit to address climate change, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 23, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

World leaders and delegates gather at a summit to address climate change, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 23, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Schwarzenegger’s AB 32

Mr. Clauser also brought up something I’ve written about for almost two decades now: In the mid-2000s, the scare-nomenclature was flipped to “climate change” from “global warming.” The flip actually can be dated with some precision. Gov. Arnold Schwazenegger pushed into law his Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Right after that, we started hearing “climate change.”
Much of Mr. Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” was fake. He still won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Mr. Gore predicted, “Within 15 years, this will be the park formerly known as Glacier.”
But in February, Ken Braun wrote for Capitol Research: “The keepers of the park even agreed at some point or other. They affixed signs telling tourists to say ‘Goodbye to Glaciers’ and that ‘Computer models indicate the glaciers will all be gone by the year 2020.’
“But Gore’s 15-year prophecy about the glaciers expired quietly in 2021. The 2021 visits to Glacier National Park exceeded each of the previous five years. The glaciers were still there. ...
“By January 2020, Glacier National Park’s ‘say goodbye to the glaciers’ signs had been sheepishly replaced with carefully vague warnings that the glaciers are indeed shrinking and will one day vanish.”
Meanwhile, even the liberal Scientific American reported, “Al Gore urges us all to reduce our carbon footprint, yet he regularly flies in a private jet,” while the Daily Mail reported in January that he “has been at the forefront of green technology investment that has seen his wealth balloon to an estimated $330 million.”
Worse, last year, the John Locke Foundation published a story under the headline “Al Gore Benefits From Chinese Slave Labor.” It reported: “Former vice president Al Gore runs a $36 billion investment fund dedicated to environmental and social sustainability. The ‘mission-led firm’ that claims to ‘seek transformational change needed in climate and social action’ has investments in companies that profit from Chinese slave labor and help the Chinese Communist Party censor the internet.
“Generation Investment Management, which Gore formed in 2004, has stakes in Tencent, Anta, and Alibaba, according to its investment reports. Tencent, a tech conglomerate, routinely censors the internet at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party and has surveilled foreign users of its WeChat messaging app. Anta, a sports apparel company, has faced accusations of using cotton sourced from labor camps in Xinjiang. Alibaba, which operates China’s equivalent to Google, has links to the People’s Liberation Army.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announces a lawsuit against Amazon during a news conference in San Francisco on Sept. 14, 2022. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announces a lawsuit against Amazon during a news conference in San Francisco on Sept. 14, 2022. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)

Political Aspirations

Meanwhile, back in California, although the state’s citizens will be damaged by the lawsuit against the oil companies, two politicians’ virtue signaling will benefit them among liberal donors and voters. In May, Mr. Bonta said he’s “seriously considering” a run for governor in 2026, when term limits prevent Mr. Newsom from running again.
Mr. Newsom told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo on Sept. 19 that he isn’t running for president in 2024.
“I have deep respect, reverence for Joe Biden as a person, his character, his decency, and his capacity to do great things,” he said. “That’s why. I’m not worthy of that conversation. This guy deserves it, and we as members of the party deserve to have his back.”
But what if President Biden quits his bid, either for health reasons or because of the burgeoning ethics investigations by the U.S. House into him and his son Hunter? On Sept. 12, highly influential Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote a piece with the headline “President Biden should not run again in 2024.”
The left-wing Jacobin (as in the 1789 French Revolution) explained on Sept. 16: “There’s a reason why Ignatius’s column has made headline news. Not only is he, as Axios put it, one of Biden’s ‘favorite’ columnists, someone who’s gotten to know the president better than most others thanks to the more than 40 years they’ve spent together in the furnace of Washington. He’s also someone who continues to break major stories about what the current administration is thinking and planning thanks to his access within the Biden White House and across the U.S. government.
“That Ignatius would express such reservations suggests that he’s either worried enough about Biden’s ability that he’s willing to risk jeopardizing those relationships—or, more drastically, that his dour view is more widely, if quietly, shared by Washington’s power brokers than we know. Going on the proudly Biden-loyalist  ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC, Ignatius hinted as such, mentioning as his rationale for writing the column that this past summer, ‘I haven’t gone anywhere in the country, I haven’t talked to any group of people, where this issue ... hasn’t been a centerpiece of conversation.’”
Mr. Newsom’s posturing about backing President Biden is just that: posturing. It does him no harm to play the loyalist.
But if President Biden jumps out, Mr. Newsom will be the first to jump in. Meanwhile, he’s campaigning for the presidency at the expense of Californians, leveraging his expensive attacks on the oil companies and other gambits. The cost to us? Billions and billions and billions.
John Seiler

John Seiler


John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at and his email is

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