timothywallach – CA Climate Accountability Project

Governor Newsom has not been shy about calling out the oil and gas industry for its anti-consumer and anti-climate agenda. He signed a package of groundbreaking bills meant to accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy, passed the nation’s first gas price gouging law last year despite ferocious lobbying by the industry, and has proposed eliminating some oil and gas tax breaks in his effort to address the state’s budget shortfall. Most recently, Newsom’s May budget revision directs funds to the California Air Resources Board to enforce landmark climate disclosure laws, S.B. 253 and S.B. 26, which is a big step for climate and corporate accountability in California.

As Californians grapple with skyrocketing energy costs and critical state programs face extreme cuts, the legislature can look to oil and gas subsidies and tax breaks buried in the state budget. 

Whether you’re feeling it at the pump during your morning commute or when paying your monthly bill to SoCalGas, we’re all feeling the financial squeeze. But while Californian’s energy prices have soared, oil companies like Chevron have enjoyed massive profits, and executives like Jeffrey Martin at Sempra/SoCalGas pocket over $25 million a year. SoCalGas even proposed a $4.9 billion rate hike while being accused of potential price gouging and market manipulation, and it paid $175,000 in penalties to the State of California for false marketing claims that natural gas is “renewable.”

Unbelievably, these same companies enjoy billions of dollars of state tax breaks and subsidies that contribute to California’s budget shortfall. Now we have a chance to fight back and break the grip oil and gas have on California politics, but we need Governor Newsom and state lawmakers to back people over polluters. 

A large group of environmental organizations is calling for the elimination of oil and gas subsidies, an estimated $8 billion every year in rebates, tax cuts, and other handouts from the state. That’s the equivalent of each Californian shelling out around $900 yearly to prop up an industry already reaping record profits. It has to stop. 

Governor Newsom’s budget eliminates $22 million in oil and gas subsidies, but leaves untouched a $4.3 billion break known as the “water’s edge” provision that applies to earnings outside the jurisdiction where a company is based. As the legislature considers balancing the budget, it should consider these tax credits and subsidies that benefit oil and gas: 

  • The Water’s Edge Election ($4.3 billion for all industries): Permits international companies to limit their taxable income in California solely to their earnings/operations within the U.S. and selected entities, avoiding taxes on global earnings.
  • Research and Development Credit ($3.1 billion for all industries): Allows companies to receive a tax credit for their research expenditures.
  • Accelerated Depreciation of Research and Experimental Costs ($90 million for all industries): Allow companies to choose whether to deduct research and experimental costs immediately or spread them over five years.
  • Combined Corporate and Personal Income Tax: Depletion of Mineral and Other Natural Resources ($10 million) and Intangible Drilling Cost Expensing ($8 million): Allows companies to claim deductions for depleting natural resources and for drilling costs.
  • Sales Tax: Exemption for Manufacturing and Research and Development Equipment ($495 million for all industries): Allows companies to avoid paying sales tax on equipment used for manufacturing and research.

It’s past time for California to shift its attention toward affordable, clean, and sustainable energy. By ending oil and gas industry subsidies, we signal a commitment to a greener future and reduce the industry’s grip on our state’s policies. To understand the ties between lawmakers and fossil fuel companies, explore CCAP’s climate scorecard. You’ll find out the companies making campaign contributions, the legislators accepting them, and how these legislators vote on key climate legislation.

Lobby spending and campaign finance reports have been released for 2023, and one thing is clear: the grip Big oil and gas has on California’s political landscape is stronger than ever.

In 2023 (a non-election year!), the oil and gas industry poured over $1 million into the pockets of California candidates and spent nearly $22 million lobbying against critical climate bills. Sempra Energy stood out as the largest corporate contributor to California Legislators in 2023. This influx of money was strategically deployed to try to deepen influence and delay progress on climate solutions in California. 

Breaking Down the Numbers

The influence of big oil and gas is widespread, with more than three-quarters of California’s legislators receiving fossil fuel money in 2023. This includes 72% of Democrats and 96% of Republicans, indicating a bipartisan attempt to buy influence on the state’s environmental progress. This concerted effort by oil and gas to attempt to control California’s legislative agenda highlights a glaring conflict: while these companies report billions in profits and their CEOs enjoy multi-million dollar paychecks, they spend millions to obstruct the transition to clean energy and maintain high energy prices, leaving California families to bear the burden.

Check out CCAP’s updated Climate Scorecard HERE to see which oil and gas companies are contributing to California legislators and learn how those legislators are voting on key climate policies.

The California Climate Accountability Project has released its updated climate scorecard to reflect all of the 2023 legislative votes. The updated scorecard showcases California’s climate leaders and California’s climate laggards. 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 the California Climate Accountability Project’s interactive webtool.

As California faces the growing challenges of climate change, including wildfires, droughts, and extreme heat, residents are asking more from legislators on climate and clean energy. In fact, 70% say they want the electricity grid to run on 100% renewable energy by 2035. Thus, it is paramount that our elected officials uphold promises and act as responsible stewards of our environment, properly representing constituents. 

2023 was another important year for climate legislation in California. Several key climate bills crossed the governor’s desk this year. The below bills have been added to the scorecard from the 2023 legislative session. These bills are critical to California’s clean energy future and residents should be able to easily understand how their legislators voted on these bills. The 2023 climate bills that have been added to the scorecard are:

We know that California politics isn’t always black and white and not every legislator who accepts Oil & Gas money allows it to influence their vote. However, it is clear that the fossil fuel industry is constantly trying to buy power and influence. While perhaps some Californians would not be surprised that certain Republicans received Oil & Gas funding and then were aligned with the oil and gas industry in opposing climate legislation, several Democrats also failed to protect California’s climate. In total, seven Democrats both accepted financial contributions from oil and gas and failed to support any of the climate bills detailed above. They are:

  • Marie Alvarado-Gil (Senator, District 4)
  • Jasmeet Bains (Assemblymember, District 35)
  • Mike Gipson (Assemblymember, District 65)
  • Tim Grayson (Assemblymember, District 15)
  • Blanca Rubio (Assemblymember, District 48)
  • Esmeralda Soria (Assemblymember, District 27)
  • Carlos Villapudua (Assemblymember, District 13)

2024 is a seminal year for climate and clean energy legislation in California and across the country because scientists say we must rapidly reduce emissions and limit warming to avoid the most devastating and irreversible impacts of climate change.. We’ll continue to ensure that the public knows when legislators take Oil & Gas money and subsequently do not support critical climate legislation. Stay tuned throughout the year for more updates and information on your legislator’s climate accountability. 

The California Climate Accountability Project urges Californians to examine their legislators – explore our webtool to access comprehensive information about legislators’ voting records and financial ties to Oil & Gas interests.

There has been a lot of noise around hydrogen recently. President Biden recently announced that the Department of Energy is awarding $7 billion to 7 regional “hydrogen hubs”, intended to spur the development of hydrogen infrastructure in the U.S. – California alone will be receiving up to $1.2 billion for hydrogen projects. It’s a big deal for hydrogen advocates, and if done right, a big deal for clean energy. But, as with anything involving hydrogen energy, there is both promise and peril

The promise of hydrogen is actually very simple. If we can find a way to produce hydrogen from 100% renewable energy like wind and solar, we can make important strides in our emission reductions in sectors that are hard to decarbonize, like shipping and aviation. That’s good news for the climate and good news for communities. The perils of hydrogen are much more complicated, but most derive from the fact that currently, 95% of hydrogen relies on fossil fuels for production and Oil & Gas companies will stop at nothing to keep it that way. 

With a growing emphasis on hydrogen, Oil & Gas executives and their lobbyists are working to ensure today’s hydrogen benefits them and remains fossil fuel hydrogen. They’ve spent millions of dollars lobbying to get consumers to pay for the expansion of fossil fuel hydrogen — an unproven and expensive technology that will lock in costs for decades. They’ve spent big dollars promoting hydrogen in advertising and trying to confuse the issue and mislead Californians by claiming it’s clean energy. The industry’s attempts to conflate their version of hydrogen with hydrogen derived from renewables – also known as green hydrogen – is an attempt to boost profits and block California’s responsible transition to clean energy. It will be the responsibility of California’s elected officials to ensure that the money for California’s hydrogen hub will be used exclusively for green hydrogen, derived from clean energy, and not more fossil fuel hydrogen. 

Oil & Gas companies thrive off of creating confusion in the hydrogen debate. So we wanted to give you some straight facts about what green hydrogen is, what it is not, and what Oil & Gas companies are doing to ensure tomorrow’s hydrogen is fossil-fuel dependent. 

(Download the full CCAP Hydrogen Fact Sheet HERE)

Here’s what some other groups are saying about California’s hydrogen future:

California Environmental Justice Organizations: “Equity Principles for Hydrogen”

  • “We adamantly oppose all non-green hydrogen proposals and projects. We insist that new projects protect communities first and do not perpetuate the injustices that polluting infrastructures impose on fence-line communities today.”

Earthjustice: “Reclaiming Hydrogen for a Clean Energy Future” 

  • “When used as a marketing tool by the fossil fuel industry, hydrogen can be used to hinder necessary climate action. But when reclaimed and deployed as a solution to decarbonize sectors we cannot otherwise electrify, green hydrogen can play an important role in a zero-emission future”

The Climate Center: Statement on the Hydrogen Hub announcement 

  • “Without proper guardrails, hydrogen production could both increase greenhouse gas emissions and further disadvantage communities that are already on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution.”

The Climate Center: Hydrogen Policy Brief

  • “Hydrogen, and only green hydrogen, should only be considered in cases where electrification is not an option. Hydrogen should never be deployed to extend the life of fossil fuel infrastructure, nor should it replace or delay direct electrification.”
Fossil Fuel Hydrogen Is Polluting And Expensive.
The Oil & Gas Industry Is Trying To Squeeze Public Money For Their Schemes.
  • Today, the industry is pressuring regulators and lawmakers for access to funding that is supposed to be for clean energy. They’re trying to convince policymakers to use fossil fuel hydrogen to keep demand for their product and justify the building of polluting pipelines.
  • Right now, the IRS is determining what actually counts as clean hydrogen, and there are over $1 billion in subsidies on the line. Money that could be going toward real climate solutions like building out renewable energy, including wind and solar. Oil companies are urging leaders to make the standards as relaxed as possible so they can squeeze out profits.
California’s Leading Climate Obstructionist Shouldn’t Get To Set Energy Policy In The State.
Download the fact sheet →


California is moving toward a clean energy future. As set forth in SB 100, California aims to supply 100 percent of its electric retail sales with renewable and zero-carbon resources by 2045. Meanwhile, continued progress on state policies can help us to power more of our lives with cleaner, cheaper energy.

The next decade should see major increases in renewables driven by these state policies, overwhelming public support for a clean energy transition, market changes that are making clean energy cheaper and more scalable than other sources, and major breakthroughs in battery storage technology.

But the Oil & Gas industry is seeking to delay this transition to clean energy by opposing renewable energy generation.

Industry groups and the right-wing media center their attacks on the reliability of a renewables-centered electric grid, painting a dire picture of blackouts and grid failure. When the Texas grid went offline during a severe winter storm in 2021, for example, industry groups blamed frozen wind turbines. In reality, however, Oil & Gas infrastructure was exposed as the primary cause for the outage and the delays in reestablishing power.

To be sure, the intermittency of wind and solar power, which can vary by time of day or by weather, is an issue that will need serious attention as we transform our grid. Efforts to get this process right and solve problems isn’t a reason to abandon clean energy.

In California, the industry’s arguments on reliability issues usually rely on the false premise that the state is trying to immediately ban fossil fuels in the electric grid (when, in fact, it is a gradual transition). They also ignore current technology advancements that are making clean energy cheaper and more abundant, and cherry-pick challenges that apply to individual forms of renewable energy rather than the more complementary whole.

Looking at the full picture, solar, wind, and batteries are a complementary mix, and innovative clean energy technologies are increasing our capacity to generate and store electricity, which will continue to improve grid reliability.

Transitioning to clean energy options will also offer consumers a more reliable energy mix across the board. The price of fossil fuels is inherently volatile and is vulnerable to price gouging. The cost of gas has skyrocketed in recent years — most recently due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — while clean energy sources and storage options have become dramatically cheaper over the last decade. Investing in distributed clean energy and battery storage capacity will ensure renewable energy is available to consumers around the clock and throughout the year. And increasing the state’s battery storage capacity will make California much more resilient in the face of power outages and climate change- related natural disasters.

The positive impacts can be especially robust in the decade ahead, as California seeks to reach majority renewables, without having to address the last-mile challenges of reaching full 100 percent closer to 2045.

If we stay focused on promoting the growth of battery storage both at home and at scale, and promote a diverse, balanced renewable energy portfolio — we will realize climate, public health, and economic benefits. If we allow the fossil fuel industry to alter our path, we will get a larger dose of negative fossil fuels impacts such as price spikes, pollution, climate impacts, and fossil fuel’s own reliability risks.

Achieving our energy reliability goals is within reach — as long as we stay focused on renewables and storage and don’t get distracted by the Oil & Gas industry’s attempts to keep us addicted to fossil fuels.

Summary Points

The Oil & Gas industry and conservative allies continue to deploy misleading messages around grid reliability as part of their efforts to delay California’s transition to clean energy. Building out renewable energy and storage capacity by increasing solar, wind, and battery storage is the key to a strong, reliable grid in California.

Solar, wind, battery storage, and related clean energy technologies are a complementary mix and can strengthen the California grid and energy picture over the next decade.

Intermittency of renewable energy is a challenge, but a balanced renewable portfolio with more battery storage has huge potential for reliability on many fronts, protecting us from fossil fuel costs spikes, weather disruptions, and major heat events.

In the next decade, California is seeking to double our clean energy to cover around 75 percent of our energy needs. We’re adding more wind as solar as those become the cheapest forms of energy.

Electric vehicles, batteries, and other emerging technologies will create a more resilient clean energy future.

Battery technology is taking off and has already become a game changer, allowing us to create a cleaner, smarter, and more reliable energy system. This and related investments in grid technology should be California’s reliability focus.

Electric vehicles are essentially huge batteries and can be charged at low demand times. EVs can be charged during the daytime using solar and then “load shift” that energy to make it available during the evenings.

The technology to allow vehicles like electric school buses, trucks, and cars to send electricity back out to the grid is available now and can provide backup energy to communities when they’re not being used.

As we saw in recent heat waves, California is also making progress with demand response to address moments of strain on the power grid.

We need to break the cycle.

The industry’s reliability arguments usually ignore the emerging role of battery storage, and pretend like the state is switching off of fossil fuels overnight. We need to move quickly on renewables, but the efforts to reach full 100 percent won’t be the main challenge for more than ten years.

Oil & Gas executives have been caught in overt deception, like during the Texas energy crisis, when they tried to blame renewables and wind for the energy crisis, but frozen natural gas pipelines proved to be the real cause of prolonged power outages — and, in the end, renewables recovered first and were able to start generating power again quicker.


Building out complementary clean energy sources and battery storage capacity and transmission should be the focus of California’s approach to creating a reliable and renewables-based grid.

  • Diversified clean energy sources — including wind, rooftop and utility-scale solar, hydropower, and geothermal — and storage create a complementary energy mix that will reduce emissions, establish more flexibility in the power system, and maintain a reliable grid.
  • California can reliably reach 85 percent clean energy by 2030, in-depth modeling has shown, by ramping up offshore wind and geothermal power production in addition to utility-scale solar.
  • As the technology rapidly progresses, batteries are revving up in their usefulness and potential for storage capacity. Batteries allow us to store energy to power our homes, cars, and economy with clean, renewable energy at all hours — making them key to increasing grid reliability.
  • The cost and capacity of batteries is changing quickly. It’s driving a revolution in clean energy in California. According to Michael Wara, policy director of the Sustainability Accelerator at Stanford University, “If we can keep [our current rate of battery deployment] up, it’s not going to be very many years until [grid failure] is just a rearview mirror thing.”
  • Innovation in clean energy technology and battery storage is revolutionizing California’s energy grid. “Vehicle to grid” (V2G) uses electric vehicles to store energy and send it back to the grid. Some school districts are already using electric school buses to improve local grid reliability.
  • In order to meet our long-term clean energy goals, California will need to double down on generating and storing renewable energy from complementary sources, including utility-scale and rooftop solar, as well as offshore wind.


Electric vehicles (EVs) are not only a climate game changer, they will also help improve grid reliability.

  • EVs don’t currently have a large impact on California’s electric grid. California had roughly 800,000 registered EVs as of January 2023 and they account for less than 1 percent of electricity demand.
  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimated that even if there are 5 million EVs in California by 2030, they would only account for 7 percent of the state’s annual electricity usage — and only 1 percent of peak demand.
  • Many EV owners can schedule when they charge their vehicles, in the evenings or off of peak times.
  • Increasing EVs will make California’s grid more resilient, as innovative bidirectional EV charging technologies (V2G) that supply electricity back to the grid become more widespread.
  • California is experiencing more extreme heat events due to climate change, and residents are increasingly encouraged to conserve electricity during those times. EV batteries can store excess renewable energy and pull it back into use exactly when it is needed — such as during periods of high electricity demand.


Solar, wind, and other clean energy sources are now cheaper than fossil fuels, including gas in many situations.

  • It’s now cheaper to build new solar plants than it is to operate existing coal plants. And, due to the price volatility of gas and the decreasing price of renewables and battery storage, it’s now cheaper to switch from coal to clean energy than it is to switch from coal to natural gas.
  • Solar and wind are now cheaper than gas in many situations. As solar and wind manufacturing continues to get more efficient, clean energy options are still seeing costs fall, with battery storage costs set to drop dramatically as well. The same cannot be said for gas or other fossil fuels.
  • In October 2022, utility-scale solar power was about 33 percent cheaper than gas-fired power, and onshore wind was 44 percent less expensive than gas- fired power. While gas prices surge and fluctuate, the cost of wind and solar has decreased due to industry innovation and federal and statewide climate legislation in the US.
  • In 2021, the price of utility-scale solar decreased approximately 12 percent. Both solar and storage costs have fallen over the past decade. The price of residential solar (which also saves on transmission infrastructure) was reported at $2.65/W in 2021, down from $7.53/W in 2010. Utility-scale solar cost $0.89/W in 2021 compared to $5.66/W a decade prior.
  • Fossil fuel costs are volatile, and recently, they’ve hit an all-time high. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the 47 percent of US households that primarily use natural gas for heating will spend an average of 28 percent more in 2022 than they did in 2021.


Climate change-related heat events are increasing in intensity and frequency. California avoided blackouts during the unprecedented heat wave in 2022, demonstrating the potential for better grid management.

  • September 2022 saw the most brutal heat wave in California’s history, with high-temperature records being set across the state. Sacramento hit 116 degrees, surpassing the 1925 record of 114 degrees.
  • The state was close to suffering from rolling blackouts during the 2022 heat waves but avoided it because several thousand megawatts of battery storage kicked in to provide energy, helping to stabilize the situation, and because Californians responded to the grid operator’s request to conserve electricity during peak hours. This type of demand response — with incentives, communications, and technology — has the potential to address high-demand days.
  • California has significantly increased its battery storage capacity over the past few years, which allowed it to keep power going during the 2022 heat waves, even when solar power dropped off after dark. Strides are also being made in demand response programs that pay consumers to stop using power when the grid is stressed.
  • In February 2021, the Texas power crisis made grid reliability a hot button issue, but Texas’ grid is powered primarily by gas facilities that are not adequately winterized, which directly led to blackouts across the state. California isn’t the only state where renewables have provided critical energy to the grid during an extreme weather event: solar power provided some of the only reliable energy after Hurricanes Fiona and Ian struck Puerto Rico and Florida in 2022.
  • On September 6, 2022, California’s battery output reached 2.99 megawatts — which is higher than the output from the state’s largest single generator of energy, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.
  • Experts agree: Diversifying renewable energy and increasing battery storage capacity is California’s long-term solution to this type of unprecedented heat wave.


The state can’t afford to lose its focus on building out renewables and storage.

  • California still needs more solar, offshore wind, and battery storage capacity to meet the state’s environment and energy needs in a variety of ways. We need to move faster, not slower, on clean energy.
  • In 2020, 34.5 percent of California’s electricity came from renewables. Our leaders need to hone in on facilitating California’s transition efforts over the next 10 years in order to meet our goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
  • Draft plans laying out the state’s transition to a fully reliable, clean energy grid already exist. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) released a 20-year plan for build-out that would make California’s energy grid much more reliable and allow us to power the grid with clean energy in order to meet the 2045 climate goals set forth in SB 100.
  • We need to get to the point where we can meet our daily energy needs with 100 percent clean energy — but we have a long way to go, and we can’t let the oil and gas industry slow us down. Increasing California’s clean energy capacity is the way to meet our energy goals while also increasing our grid’s reliability.


The Oil & Gas industry and its executives want us to focus on issues that will be more relevant in 2040 than in 2023 — or even 2030. But California is trying to reach 100 percent clean energy (and the interim goals of 90 and 95 percent). We need to be focusing on increasing our renewable energy and storage capacity, not taking detours back into fossil fuels.

Once we meet our initial battery goals, our reliability will shoot up and we’ll be more independent. But the reality is, our situation now isn’t very reliable — methane gas prices are volatile and only increasing, and consumers bear the price burden.

It’s time to break the cycle: California is facing a horrific reality of catastrophic wildfire, drought, and extreme heat that are caused by our dependence on polluting Oil & Gas. If we don’t move toward a clean energy future, we risk facing even more dangerous and desperate climate impacts.

California has proven that, by increasing renewable energy from sources like wind and solar, we can improve our ability to manage extreme weather. But our leaders need to continue prioritizing policies that ramp up solar, offshore wind, and battery storage projects — not fossil fuel solutions. As always, Oil & Gas executives are putting their profits ahead of Californians’ best interests, when the facts show that clean energy is cheaper and more reliable.

Oil & Gas companies are doing the same: stalling progress on renewables and electric vehicles while trying to carve out special deals and expensive niches that would ensure Californians pay more in expensive infrastructure and energy costs over time. Companies like SoCalGas and WSPA have invested heavily in lobbying against climate-friendly legislation and policies related to California’s transition to electric vehicles.

They’re ignoring the fact that California isn’t aiming to power our economy with clean energy until 2045, and that for the next decade, we will deploy a mix of renewables/clean energy. Slowing down California’s transition to renewables certainly isn’t going to make our energy economy more reliable.

Download the fact sheet →

SEMPRA, Chevron, and Western States Petroleum Association Ramping Up Lobby Spending To Delay Climate Action and Create Special Deals for Themselves

SEMPRA, Chevron, and the Western States Petroleum Association spent over $2.4 million on lobbying in California in the first three months of 2022 to push an agenda to burn more fossil fuels.

What do SEMPRA, Chevron, and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) have in common? All three are among the top spenders in recently submitted California lobby expenditure reports, shelling out a combined $2.4 million in just the first three months of 2022, according to lobbying disclosures.

That’s on top of the millions they have made in campaign contributions and independent expenditures on behalf of lawmakers in recent elections, and the oil and gas industry has used that influence to rig the political system in California and push an agenda to burn more fossil fuels. Now, instead of denying the impacts of climate change, the industry is delaying real action by trying to create special deals for themselves.

A closer look at the lobby reports reveals SEMPRA, Chevron, and WSPA continue to share an interest in blocking urgent climate and environmental justice action in the California legislature and regulatory agencies. They are required to report all bills and regulatory processes they seek to influence and for the first quarter of 2022, all three list:

  • Assembly Bill 1218 – which would set zero emission goals for cars and trucks and phase out gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
  • Senate Bill 260 – which would require companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Senate Bill 342 – which would add two members to the South Coast Air Quality Management District from communities disproportionately burdened by pollution and environmental justice issues.
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) Climate Change Scoping Plan Update – a blueprint that will guide the next 20 years of climate action in California.

Despite Californians’ strong public support for climate action and clean energy solutions and a history of enacting landmark climate policy, the industry’s campaigns and lobby investments are again paying off for oil and gas interests – with key climate action weakened and stalled. Assembly Bill 1218 died after failing to be scheduled for a vote on the House floor. Senate Bill 342 failed on the Senate floor with 13 Democratic and Republican Senators failing to even cast a vote. And Senate Bill 260 passed the Senate floor but has languished for three months without a hearing in the House. CARB’s recently released draft Climate Change Scoping Plan does not include a target date or plan for the phaseout of oil refining, delays zero emission vehicle sale goals, and relies heavily on carbon capture and storage, a key priority for oil and gas interests. 

If gas and oil executives and lobbyists get their way and are able to block and slow our transition to cleaner, more reliable, cheaper clean energy, Californians will bear the costs. Our climate crisis will worsen, we’ll have fewer energy jobs, our air will be more polluted, and families will pay more for energy, while gas and oil executives squeeze more profit. Leaders need to do what huge supermajorities of Californians want – promote clean energy from solar and wind and ensure that clean energy powers our cars, homes and economy. Leaders can’t be for clean energy and industry special deals – it’s time to pick a side.

Polling Shows California Public Wants Leaders To Act on Clean Energy and Climate

Recent polling in California shows that the gap between the oil and gas industry’s stances and the public’s desire for state action on clean energy and climate is broad and growing.

The extent of climate policy support across the California electorate is striking. Supermajorities not only support 100 percent clean energy in the grid by 2035, but also want to extend the reach of clean energy to power cars and buildings. 

  • 70 percent of all Californian likely voters want the electricity grid to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035
  • 69 percent support promoting the transition to clean energy with buildings that run entirely on electricity, with no gas or fossil fuels 
  • 65 percent support the requirement that by the year 2035, all new vehicles sold in California should be required to produce no polluting emissions.

When asked if California was “doing enough” on climate change, only 22 percent of California said the state has done “too much,” while 46 percent said that California hasn’t done enough to address climate change. 

Underlying this is a sharp rise in climate concern among Californians: 67 percent say climate change is a “very serious” or “extremely serious” problem, up from just 42 percent in 2014.

Public Support for Climate Action Is Intense and Almost Universal Among Democratic Constituencies. 

If we home in on the Democratic and No Party Preference voters who are the core constituencies of many elected officials in California, the numbers are intense and overwhelming.   

Among these groups, 92 percent of Democrats want to power California with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. 89 percent of lower-income voters who make $30,000 or less support a transition to clean energy; 69 percent want to see a 100 percent clean electricity grid by 2035. 

Among No Party Preference voters, 69 percent support a 100 percent renewable energy grid by 2035.

Californians Reject Industry’s False Claims

The poll also shows a strong rejection of oil and gas industry message framing. Industry groups have at times been effective in confusing the issues within the Sacramento policymaking space. But when the public is presented with competing messaging, we see a sharp rejection of the industry’s messaging and false trade offs. 

  • 60 percent believe the government and employers should be focused on protecting workers’ livelihoods, including by providing job training and financial support for oil and gas workers as our economy changes, while only 34 percent said the state should be protecting specific jobs. Among Democrats, 76 percent agree that protecting workers’ livelihoods should be the government and companies’ top priority.
  • Voters are also clear eyed about where the responsibility lies. 57 percent believe those oil and gas executives are threatening workers by pushing for their own short term profits above all else, failing to think about their workers’ futures, while only 33 percent believe overzealous environmental and climate regulations are threatening to put oil and gas workers out of work.  Among Democrats, 74 percent agree with the former, while only 17 percent believe the latter. 
  • 61 percent believe that clean energy will create more jobs in the very fields that oil supporters claim are threatened, including construction jobs, union jobs, utility work, and more.
  • The poll also shows deep distrust of oil and gas companies and executives as honest players, and confirms that Californians are aware of and object to the industry’s efforts to influence state policy and politics. 64 percent say that industry is standing in the way of California’s climate progress. 63 percent say they agree that oil and gas companies have rigged the state government in their favor. 
  • Voters are particularly animated by the extent of industry dishonesty, aware that oil and gas executives have tried to confuse the link between their products and climate change and are breaking their promises to contribute to clean energy technology and progress. 

The bottom line is that Californians want to see progress on clean energy and climate action right now, to ensure steady change over the next decade. Advocates and policymakers should take swift, bold action to implement and enforce common sense clean energy policies in alignment with what their constituents want, and should feel secure in knowing that support for climate action is broad, deep, and resilient. 

More information about the statewide survey is here.  

WSPA EV lobbying efforts

The majority of Californians believe vehicles should be powered by 100% clean energy by 2035, but WSPA is opposing policies that will get more electric vehicles on California’s roads.

The oil industry, led by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), has been working hard to slow the adoption of zero emissions vehicles in the West, pitting them directly against trends in the auto industry and against their own claim that they support increasing access to reliable and environmentally responsible energy options. 

WSPA spent over $4.3 million dollars on lobbying in 2021 and invested heavily in lobbying against climate-friendly legislation and policies related to electric vehicles. The trade group continued to drive the false narrative that policies that will help California transition toward lifesaving electric vehicles are “arbitrary mandates.” 

Studies show that transitioning to electric vehicles would save more than 7,000 lives in California by 2050, and corporate giants like GM and Ford have already committed to producing mostly electric cars in the next 10 years because it makes sense for their business model. The majority of Californians also support this transition — a decisive majority of  Californians believe all new vehicles shouldn’t produce polluting emissions by 2035. But WSPA is opposing key policies that would get more electric vehicles on California’s roads.

WSPA’s recent lobbying efforts to stop the build-out of charging stations and new electric vehicles gives us one more example of oil and gas executives and their lobbyists pushing a narrow corporate agenda to burn more fossil fuels and block California’s leadership on climate, just so they can keep profiting a little longer.

Here’s a breakdown of WSPA’s recent lobbying efforts and claims against electric vehicles:

WSPA created the misleading website Energy Ideas CA to oppose ongoing electric vehicle initiatives in California. The site includes false claims that switching to electric vehicles will drive up consumer costs, despite evidence that clean cars will be cheaper and more reliable than doubling down on dirty energy. We’ve seen this playbook before. WSPA is interfering with our cheap electric vehicle future by trying to keep us tied to dirty technologies of the past. 

WSPA opposed electric vehicle legislation by testifying in opposition, signing letters, and commenting to the California Public Utilities Commission. WSPA directly opposed a bill that would codify California’s transition to electric vehicles by 2035, a policy goal that the vast majority of Californians support. Oil, gas, and allied climate opponents are desperately trying to stall progress on climate action — and even take us backward — by forcing Californians to spend money supporting outdated gas infrastructure instead of the clean and affordable solutions they want to invest in.

WSPA falsely claimed that increasing access to electric vehicles will cost Californians jobs and increase prices. WSPA CEO Catherine Reheis-Boyd has pushed the narrative that California’s transition to electric vehicles will cost hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. The numbers say otherwise. California has five times more clean energy than oil and gas industry jobs, and phasing in climate-friendly policies will protect workers’ livelihoods and help keep costs reasonable.

WSPA is trying to block progress across the West; they opposed electric vehicle efforts in Washington state and Nevada. In Nevada, WSPA presented at the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Clean Cars Nevada stakeholder workshop on June 17, 2021, claiming that WSPA’s companies are vital to keeping Nevada’s citizens supplied with the energy they need to fuel their homes. WSPA also testified in opposition to a Clean Fuel Standard bill in the Washington State Legislature calling it a “costly and ineffective mandate.” WSPA knows that oil and gas executives make the most money by ensuring our economy and our communities burn dirty fuels. That’s why they have opposed smart policies that will make the West less polluted.

WSPA has spent millions of dollars trying to influence state governments to defeat bills that will save lives and safeguard our climate, and they’re continuing to mislead the public to protect their own profits at the expense of our health and wallets.

California needs to act quickly and in the public’s interest. We have a lot to gain by transitioning to cleaner cars, and risk facing the steep costs of natural disaster and pollution cleanup, increased healthcare costs, and the loss of land, water, and wildlife that come from burning fossil fuels.

SoCal Gas

SoCalGas is holding California back from taking meaningful climate action by using deceptive lobbying tactics to carve out special policies that advance a pro-gas agenda.

If you want to understand the climate fight in California, you need to know about SoCalGas. The Southern California affiliate of Sempra — the nation’s largest natural gas utility company —  has emerged as perhaps the leading opponent of the next logical steps to fight climate change and pollution in California. They are pioneers of a new and more deceptive kind of opposition to climate action, using front groups and lobbying tactics to push state legislators to carve out special policies that advance a pro-gas agenda. 

California is moving toward the adoption of clean energy, like solar and wind, and transitioning to 100 percent clean energy enjoys remarkably broad public support: the decisive majority of Californians strongly support policies to shift the electrical grid to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. And as the state grapples with fires, droughts, and other immediate impacts of climate change, the need to phase in clean energy, rather than doubling down on dirty energy, is urgent

As clean energy is increasingly available and affordable, we all want to see it powering more of our lives, including zero-emission cars and new technologies to heat and cool our homes. This will benefit Californians’ health, the economy, and the environment, but it’s a fundamental problem for SoCalGas. SoCalGas only sells gas to its customers, unlike some other utilities or companies that also supply electricity or other forms of clean energy. This explains their desperation to slow California’s transition to renewable energy.

It also defines the stakes in California’s climate debate by pitting the interests of consumers, energy workers, and our environment against narrow corporate interests.

Funding affiliated front groups to oppose or delay climate policies geared toward phasing out use of natural gas in California — SoCalGas helped create the astroturf group Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions (C4BES), misusing using ratepayer money to help fund the launch. The group, which described itself as a non-profit coalition of “families, small and large commercial businesses, industrial users, local governments,” was actually a front group furthering SoCalGas’ agenda of opposing clean energy and advocating for California’s continued dependence on fossil fuels and natural gas. Instead of recruiting true allies, after SoCalGas created the group, they populated it with “supporters” — politicians and leaders from minority communities who SoCalGas specifically recruited to speak out in favor of the effort — leveraging that orchestrated support to advance its pro-fossil fuel agenda. C4BES is now defunct, after the Public Advocate’s Office exposed the astroturf group and ordered the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate the relationship between SoCalGas and C4BES. 

Opposing or delaying commonsense, cost-effective, and lifesaving climate policies to protect their own profits – In 2017, SoCalGas lobbied against electric vehicles and emissions standards, arguing that policymakers should prioritize natural gas vehicles. In 2020, SoCalGas sued the State of California in an attempt to overturn a mandate aiming to reduce air pollution by putting 300,000 zero-emission trucks on the road by 2035. The lawsuit, filed by the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition — of which SoCalGas is one of two charter members — argued that “the California Energy Commission has failed to promote natural gas as required by state law.” A recent Harvard study estimated that more than 34,000 Californians died prematurely as a result of fossil fuel pollution in 2018 alone, yet SoCalGas and other companies continue to push dirty fuels on our communities. 

Using ratepayer money to fund anti-climate lobbying— Advocates uncovered that SoCalGas used ratepayer money to try to block federal energy efficiency standards and other programs that would reduce pollution and save their customers money. In 2019, SoCalGas authorized use of nearly $28 million for “balanced energy” activities, characterized those activities as operations and maintenance expenditures, and billed them to their customers. But, in reality, that money funded the anti-climate lobbying effort to prevent cities from gradually phasing out fossil fuel use. And while “balanced energy solutions” might imply that SoCalGas prioritizes giving consumers access to a variety of energy options, the reality is that SoCalGas only supplies gas. SoCalGas originally denied the claims but when pressed by a consumer watchdog group, they acknowledged that some ratepayer money did go toward these lobbying efforts. SoCalGas claimed this was simply an “inadvertent accounting error.” A $28 million accounting error, apparently. In a positive step toward holding the company accountable, California officials recently fined SoCalGas nearly $10 million for using customers’ money to pay for their anti-climate campaigns and lobbying efforts.  

Creating confusion and trying to cut themselves special deals through policy proposals — Trucks make up just 4% of vehicles on U.S. roads, but they are responsible for nearly 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., as well as half of the nitrogen oxide emissions and 60% of the fine particulates emitted from all vehicles. As part of their last-ditch effort to undermine California’s transition away from fossil fuels, SoCalGas launched the Advanced Clean Trucks Now Los Angeles (ACT NOW LA) campaign in 2017, arguing that the state should invest in gas-powered vehicles over zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs). SoCalGas’ claim that gas trucks are the “best way to reduce heavy-duty trucking emissions” is nonsensical, but has continued even after the huge advances electric vehicles have made in recent years. They know that EVs are undoubtedly the best solution to reducing vehicle emissions, but they continue to push false solutions to create public confusion and help their own outdated business model.

Recruiting local politicians and minority groups to promote fossil fuels through lobbying efforts and monetary contributions —  In 2017, SoCalGas enlisted politicians of color and paid local residents to promote fossil fuels at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach ahead of the port officials’ vote on its Clean Air Action Plan. Many of the campaigners, who had been told they were “‘standing up for sustainability’ as part of an environmental campaign,” weren’t aware that they were actually taking part in an industry campaign to promote fossil fuels and “near-zero” trucks. At around the same time, SoCalGas worked with Imprenta Communications Group (an agency that claims to “empower communities of color by giving them a “voice”) to recruit Latino/a and Asian American politicians to promote the oil and gas agenda, through a “well-coordinated operation” that involved “writing gas-friendly remarks for politicians, making campaign contributions to those who delivered talking points, and sending [SoCalGas’] own speakers to public meetings.” 

Using their political influence and making campaign contributions to push legislators to carve out special policies that only benefit the fossil fuel industry — The vast majority of legislative Democrats in California, many of whom claim to have a pro-environment platform, took contributions from Sempra (SoCalGas’ parent company) in the past five years. While it’s not altogether uncommon for legislators on both sides of the aisle to take utility money, Sempra isn’t just another utility, and their political contributions (over $1.5 million in 2021 alone) are especially troubling given SoCalGas’ history of actively attempting to stall California’s climate progress. Meanwhile, key climate bills like The California Climate Crisis Act have died on the legislative floor as California lawmakers who are the recipients of these contributions refuse opportunities to make concrete progress on climate change. 

Every day of delay on climate action costs us. California could save over a thousand lives per year by powering our buildings and homes with clean electricity instead of natural gas. SoCalGas executives know that. But they also know that as long as our economy and our communities burn dirty fuels, they can continue to pollute and profit a little longer.