Newsom proposes rebate for California to counter surging gas prices
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told Californians that he was working on a potential rebate to offset the escalating costs of gas as prices broke historic records across the country Tuesday.
“No one’s naive about the moment we’re living with high gas prices and the geopolitical uncertainty that’s fueling them,” Newsom said during his State of the State address. “I’ll be submitting a proposal to put money back in the pockets of Californians to address rising gas prices.”
California’s gas prices — among the highest in the country — topped $5.44 per gallon on Tuesday, soaring above the national average of $4.17, as President Biden announced energy sanctions on Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The state’s prices were the highest ever recorded in the country’s history, according to the American Automobile Association.
Acknowledging that he and his colleagues had already proposed a pause to the state’s gas tax increase in January, Newsom said that “now it’s clear we have to go farther.”
Despite his commitment to offering some relief at the pump for Californians, the governor stressed that “one thing we cannot do is repeat the mistakes of the past by embracing polluters.” Such mistakes, he explained, would include drilling more oil, which he said would lead to “more extreme weather, more extreme drought and more wildfires.”
“In the past few years, we’ve seen whole communities nearly wiped off the map,” Newsom said. “We need to be fighting polluters — not bolstering them — and in the process of doing so freeing us once and for all from the grasp of petro-dictators.”
To reduce daily dependence on fossil fuels, California will need to accelerate clean technology development as well as maintain its dominance in electric vehicle sales and manufacturing, according to the governor.
One way to help bolster that effort would be by “tapping one of the world’s largest lithium reserves” in the state’s Imperial Valley — which would “secure a critical component of the supply chain for batteries,” Newsom said.
California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) echoed the governor’s calls to continue tackling climate change in his comments that preceded Newsom’s address.
“The overwhelming challenge we face is climate change,” Rendon said. “We have to continue our work to stop that change. But we also have to accelerate our efforts to adapt to the changes that are already happening in our state. While we do that, we also need to develop ideas to reduce our state’s staggering inequities.”
In response following the State of the State address, the Republican National Committee (RNC) slammed Newsom’s speech as “the kind of tone-deaf pep talk we’ve come to expect.”
“Gaslighting Gavin is back at it again with promises he won’t keep and ideas that will never happen for Californians in need,” said RNC spokesperson Hallie Balch. “California is more dangerous, more expensive and more crisis riddled than ever before and Newsom and his Democrat colleagues have been steering the ship the whole time.”
Yet Newsom touted the “California way” as a key instrument in both fighting climate change and strengthening democracy as “authoritarian, illiberal impulses” continue to plague both the U.S. and countries around the world.
“California does democracy like nowhere else in the world,” Newsom said, noting that California’s approach to democracy means “rejecting all binaries.”
“We are plagued by the agents of a national anger machine fueling division, weaponizing grievance, powerful forces and loud voices stoking fear and seeking to divide us weaken in the institutions of our democracy,” he continued.
“This is a threat we must all face together and prove there’s a better way, a California way forward,” Newsom said.