In battle with Big Oil, Newsom rips into Valero’s 500% rise in profit amid soaring gas prices
Alisa Cantacuzino, The Sacramento Bee
A worker gets some relief from hot, noxious gases coming from pipelines at the Sun-Valero refinery in El Segundo on May 3, 2014. (Photo by Richard Vogel/Pacific Coast News Archives/TNS via Getty Images)
California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Newsom sparring on the topic of how oil companies’ profits are so huge — that gas prices are so high. (Photo by Al Seib / The Sacramento Bee via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Governor Jerry Brown of California on Tuesday called on oil giant Valero to stop its plans to build a new oil refinery in Richmond.
The call followed a heated exchange between the governor and Valero chief executive officer Jim Robo about the massive profit growth that Valero has been experiencing over the past decade.
Valero says it’s not trying to be a monopoly or to corner the oil market.
“The governor is asking us to stop, for the good of the people in California,” Robo told the Bee. “We see that Valero has done the very best thing for the people of California.”
Brown’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
Valero, which has been in the news for more than a year for its increasing profits, said it “strongly believes” it’s providing the most economic benefit to California.
But Brown criticized the company in a letter Tuesday to Robo dated April 23. He said the refinery “threatens to undercut jobs and drive up the price of gasoline and diesel fuel at a time when the state needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.”
Valero’s refinery expansion, which includes a new 1 million barrel per day plant in the city of Richmond, prompted an earlier round of condemnation from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and environmentalists.
“It’s ironic that we have a governor who is so against new oil refineries, but he’s the one who is putting jobs in the state,” said Jim DeWolfe, an economist for the California Labor Federation.
But, Brown said, “I don’t need to hear