htspector – CA Climate Accountability Project

The dirty little secret about green California, a global leader on climate policies, is that Big Oil still wins a lot of its political fights.
How big oil wins in green California, Calmatters, 12/19/2023

2023’s lobby expenditure reports have been released from the Secretary of State and they are sounding the alarm for any Californian concerned about the health of our communities, the climate, and the state’s transition to a cleaner, more prosperous economy. Last year, the Oil & Gas industry doubled down on its opposition to consumer and climate-friendly policies in California, spending more money lobbying legislators than in any session since 2017.  

Chevron ($11.1 million) and the Western States Petroleum Association ($6.9 million) were two of the top three organizations spending the most on lobbying last year . They were in good company with five other Oil & Gas giants – Sempra Energy ($1.4 million), Phillips 66 ($802,000), Calpine ($446,000), Valero ($598,000), and ExxonMobil ($460,000) – combining to spend more than $22.3 million to fight bills to protect consumers from oil price-gouging, require corporations to account for their climate impacts and climate-related financial risk, and set stricter bonding requirements for Oil & Gas wells.

The influx of Oil & Gas money into Sacramento was due, in part, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s special legislative session in April 2023 to impose a new windfall profit tax on oil companies in response to the “outrageous and unconscionable” rising gasoline prices in California. Assailing industry greed and influence in Sacramento, the Governor told a Climate Week panel that “Sacramento may be dominated by Democrats, but many of us are wholly owned subsidiaries of the fossil fuel industry.

 In the end the law was significantly watered down amid opposition from the trades unions and the oil industry.”

Industry lobbying comes on top of the millions Oil & Gas interests have made in campaign contributions and independent expenditures on behalf of lawmakers in recent elections, and the industry has used that influence to attempt to rig the political system in California and push an agenda to burn more fossil fuels. 

Despite a pledge by the California Democratic Party to refuse to accept campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, 77% of all Democratic Assemblymembers and State Senators took contributions from oil and/or gas companies. 

The California Climate Accountability Project keeps an eye on these contributions and how they may impact legislators’ votes on climate issues. Our updated climate scorecard reflects all of the 2023 legislative votes. 

Are you curious about how a legislator voted on climate issues? Wondering how much money their campaigns received from Oil & Gas? Take a look at the new scores on our interactive webtool.

June 29, 2023


CONTACT: Veronica Milliken


Is Your Legislator a California Climate Champion? 

Climate scorecard allows Californians to track oil and gas contributions and legislator votes 

(SACRAMENTO, CA) 79 percent of California legislators accept campaign money from the oil and gas industry, and 16 of the top 20 recipients earned a D or F grade on climate action, according to a new webtool and climate scorecard released today by the California Climate Accountability Project (CCAP).

 With the launch of the tool, CCAP is shining a light on the millions the oil and gas industry is spending to influence California policy makers, while also spotlighting the climate champions who vote for California’s future.

 By entering their zip code, Californians can get information about their legislators’ industry campaign contributions, as well as a Climate Score based on votes on key recent climate bills.

Despite a pledge by the California Democratic Party to refuse to accept campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, 72 out of 94 – 76.6 percent – of all Democratic Assemblymembers and State Senators took contributions from oil and/or gas companies. Oil and gas industry influence takes many forms, including direct campaign contributions and independent expenditure campaigns as well as millions more in lobbying regulators and state legislators to oppose policy and regulation meant to build out California’s solar and wind resources, improve its electric vehicle infrastructure and transition buildings to zero-emissions energy. 

“We support the climate champions in our legislature who are putting our state on the path to a climate-safe future,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center. “But California isn’t making progress fast enough and it’s because of oil and gas money in Sacramento. Legislators need to side with people, not polluters, and reject campaign contributions from oil and gas interests. Together, we will hold our lawmakers accountable and secure the accelerated, equitable climate solutions that Californians deserve.”

“For too long, fossil fuel companies have funded legislators in Sacramento, rigging the system against low-income, BIPOC communities,” said Raquel Mason, Policy Manager at California Environmental Justice Alliance. “They have avoided scrutiny. That’s about to change. Our legislators need to stand up for the health and future of all Californians, rather than working behind the scenes to protect corporate profits.”

California’s legislators are considering several critical bills, including SB252, SB253 and SB261 that could bolster the state’s climate ambitions, and each will come with a fight from special interests. CCAP will continue to call attention to the voting patterns of legislators in Sacramento. 


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For years, the oil industry has manipulated California’s petroleum market, driving inflation and squeezing every penny they can from California families.

In 2022 alone, the oil and gas industry made over $200 billion in profits by skyrocketing gas prices, taking billions of dollars from consumers that could have gone to Californians’ most basic needs like rent and groceries. At a time when crude oil prices dropped globally, California gas prices hit an all time high at $6.42 per gallon, a record $3.61 more than the national average.

When asked to attend a state hearing to investigate the unprecedented and unexplained increase in gas prices, all five major oil refiners refused.

Californians are demanding action against price gouging at the pump, and the state has responded loud and clear.

Big Oil must play by the rules.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and legislators just passed a landmark bill to increase transparency and oversight for California’s oil industry and hold them accountable for unexplained price gouging. The Governor and legislators are signaling that California leaders are siding with Californians, not with Big Oil’s agenda.

The new oversight measures & price gouging penalty bill includes:

  • Creation of a new independent division within the California Energy Commission (CEC) to deter Big Oil from ripping off California consumers.
  • Enhancement of the CEC and California Department of Tax and Fee Administration authority to analyze why California has seen unexplained higher gas prices since 2015.
  • Authorization for the CEC to impose a penalty to discourage price gouging of California consumers.

These critical transparency and accountability requirements can and should prevent overcharging at the pump and stop oil companies from raking in excessive profits that belong to California families. Now, our leaders can focus on the state’s responsible transition to cheaper, safer and more reliable clean energy.