Clean Energy – 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.

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.

In politics, money often means influence. In Sacramento, you can’t talk about influence without talking about Sempra Energy – no other company in California has attempted to buy more influence thus far in 2023. As reported in the Sacramento Bee, in the first half of this year, Sempra has been the single largest corporate contributor to California legislators and has spent heavily on lobbying the legislature and Public Utility Commission, including opposing major climate legislation focused on holding corporations accountable for their climate pollution and financial risk. 

Despite a pledge by the California Democratic Party to refuse to accept campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, 72 out of 94 – 76.6 percent – of all Democratic Assemblymembers and State Senators took contributions from oil and/or gas companies. Sempra contributed $252,178 to California legislative candidates in just the first two quarters of 2023 (an off-election year), nearly all of it to sitting legislators, a total higher than any of the company’s first and second-quarter amounts since at least 2015. Its influence peddling also includes retaining at least six lobby firms, in addition to a team of in-house lobbyists, spending nearly one million dollars in the first two quarters of 2023.

As California gets serious about finding solutions to the climate crisis, it is clear we must reduce our dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels. And yet, Sempra consistently opposes policies that would set zero-emission goals for cars and trucks, electrify buildings, and promote renewable energy. Sempra is spending ratepayer dollars on marketing and political influence in a cynical attempt to reposition itself as part of the solution while simultaneously pursuing an anti-climate political agenda. 

Sempra vigorously fought to undermine the adoption of zero-emissions technologies like electric vehicles, appliances, and buildings, instead promoting carve-outs for natural gas – but there is nothing “clean” about natural gas. Sempra knows the truth, as they face a $175,000 fine for claiming their natural gas was ‘renewable’ when more than 95 percent of what they deliver to customers is derived from fossil fuels.

In fact, analysis of the climate impacts associated with natural gas at all stages of development — from drilling and processing to transporting and combusting — just keeps getting worse. Methane (the main component of natural gas) is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. Leaks, venting, and flaring of natural gasses are also responsible for a range of other public health and pollution issues. Oil and gas supply chain methane emissions were 16 million metric tons in 2019, enough wasted gas to fuel 10 million homes, and adding natural gas vehicles to California roads will contribute to the state’s ozone and climate problems.

In light of the influence of Sempra and similar organizations on California’s policymakers, The CA Climate Accountability Project web tool serves as a vital resource to hold our legislators accountable for the money they take from oil & gas. With 79 percent of state legislators accepting oil and gas campaign funds and 16 of the top 20 recipients earning a D or F grade on climate action, this tool empowers Californians to demand transparency and climate-forward decisions from their elected officials. 

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 →

California is at a crossroads.

Last legislative session, state legislators passed critical policies to curb emissions and protect Californians from pollution. But there’s still work to do to help California meet its ambitious climate goals. We need to close loopholes allowing corporate greenwashing and state investments in fossil fuels. 

This legislative session, California legislators should hold corporate polluters accountable for their climate impacts and end their ability to deceive and manipulate the public with false information, by voting YES on the following climate bills currently before them:

It’s time for legislators to pick a side. 

Call your legislator and tell them to vote YES on SB252, SB 253, and SB261 to protect California’s climate future.

Paid for by Fund for a Better Future

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.

The California Legislature recently welcomed its largest class of new members in 10 years, and they now face an important choice — whether or not they will side with California constituents or with oil and gas industry interests. Will our new legislators prioritize public health and our climate, or will they let oil and gas executives block progress, take California backward, and squeeze profits at the public’s expense?

California has taken important steps to combat climate change and transition to 100 percent clean energy, but the oil and gas industry is trying to block our climate progress and take us backward. It spent millions on lobbying and election spending in 2022, and it continues to exploit Californians for record profits that it reinvests to rig the system and further its agenda to burn more fossil fuels, keep prices high, delay clean energy, and carve out special deals for itself. 

In California’s most recent legislative session, the state passed its most ambitious legislative climate change package ever – including requirements for 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, health buffer zones between oil and gas wells and nearby communities, and new guardrails for carbon removal, capture, and storage. One key bill that didn’t pass — SB 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act — would have required corporations that do business in California to report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The bill stalled in the Assembly, by just one vote. Legislators’ inaction, and the bill’s subsequent failure, illuminates why it’s critical to hold legislators who claim to support climate action accountable.

Too often our leaders act in the interests of the oil and gas industry despite knowing that California constituents are overwhelmingly in favor of clean energy. 70% of Californians (and 90% of Democrats) support 100 percent clean energy (California statewide survey, 805 interviews, December 2021).

California’s legislators will soon consider dozens of bills and new regulations that could bolster the state’s climate ambitions, and each will likely come with a fight against the oil and gas industry’s agenda. New legislators can reject the oil industry’s agenda and continue California’s climate progress and protect Californians by:

  • Supporting 100 percent clean energy to power our economy, homes, and transportation
  • Limiting oil companies’ excess profits and returning funds to consumers
  • Demanding corporate transparency and accountability on climate pollution
  • Restoring the state’s climate budget and protecting it from cuts that would slow the transition to a clean energy future
  • Rejecting campaign dollars from oil and gas companies

As Californians face floods, wildfires, and soaring oil and gas prices, the time to act is now. If oil and gas executives and lobbyists get their way and block and slow our transition to cleaner, more reliable, cheaper clean energy, Californians will bear the costs. Our climate crisis will worsen, we will 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. 

New legislators need to do what the vast majority of Californians want – promote clean energy from solar and wind and ensure that clean energy powers our cars, homes, and economy. Legislators can’t be for clean energy and industry special deals – it’s time to pick a side.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is finalizing the state’s climate blueprint, a critical plan that lays out California’s climate policies for the next 20 years. And while the state has made progress with recent legislation, this blueprint will help make the state’s climate goals a reality.

CARB has made efforts to strengthen the plan and accelerate the state’s clean energy targets, but the blueprint still favors oil and gas, giving the industry a license to pollute at a time when we need to scale up our transition to renewable energy.

This is no coincidence. The oil and gas industry has their fingerprints all over the plan. They’ve poured money into lobbying and research to influence decision makers, and have pushed their own agenda to get what they want. CARB’s blueprint makes it clear that the oil and gas industry’s lobbying efforts are working, and that our leaders are listening to them as they determine our state’s climate future. 

The oil and gas industry has spent millions on research and lobbying efforts to influence decision makers’ opinion on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). CARB’s over-reliance on CCUS in the draft scoping blueprint can be seen as a win for the fossil fuel industry. And bending to the industry’s will by subsidizing CCUS technology – the majority of which is built in communities of color and low-income communities – will guarantee that already-overburdened people on the frontlines of climate change will continue to be treated as environmental sacrifice zones

California’s climate future shouldn’t be dictated by narrow corporate interests, and carbon capture shouldn’t be treated like an offset to let oil and gas operate business as usual. The good news is the blueprint is not finalized – CARB still has an opportunity to course correct and set California’s climate policy on the right path. 

Communities are asking CARB to end deadly oil and gas pollution by 2045 and invest in renewable energy, clean cars, and mass transit for all, not just the wealthy.

It’s time for CARB to finish the job and listen to Californians – not oil and gas industry lobbyists – and finalize a strong state climate plan that will protect communities from pollution, provide consumers with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy, and keep California a climate leader.

Californians are celebrating the passage of the state’s most ambitious legislative climate change package ever –  including requirements for net-zero emissions and 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, health buffer zones between oil and gas wells and nearby communities, and new guardrails for carbon removal, capture, and storage. This is a big step toward achieving California’s clean energy future, despite heavy lobbying efforts by oil and gas industry interests – like the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) – to kill, weaken, or delay climate progress.

The precise amount that WSPA spent to influence legislators on these bills won’t be available until October 31st, when the next round of reports are due, but we know WSPA poured millions into a furious lobbying and advertising campaign opposing four of the key climate bills that passed – AB 1279, SB 1020, SB 1137, SB 905. In addition to opposing efforts to combat climate change and protect the health of frontline communities, WSPA is pursuing an agenda of carve-outs and special deals for the oil and gas industry, including using expensive fossil fuel alternatives instead of renewable energy and opposing clean car and clean truck rules.

Fortunately, the reality of California’s prolonged drought, devastating forest fires, and pollution from oil and gas development held sway with legislators meeting on the eve of the state’s unprecedented heat wave, and they came together to pass this package of comprehensive and just climate solutions to protect Californians and preserve our air, water, and climate.

 Still, it’s worth taking a closer look at the votes on some of these bills and the actions of key legislators the California Climate Accountability Project (CCAP) has been tracking. Earlier this summer, CCAP launched a statewide advertising campaign to connect the dots between fossil fuel interests financing campaigns, the industry’s agenda, and the legislators helping them rig the system in Sacramento. 

The California Environmental Scorecard reveals that nearly all state legislative Republicans and a majority of state legislative Democrats accepted oil money as recently as last year. Many of these legislators say they support climate action, but have accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and then failed to support important climate legislation.

The vote count on Senate Bill 1137 is informative. The bill creates 3,200-foot buffer zones between oil and gas wells and homes, schools, and parks – a key environmental justice and public health priority for frontline communities disproportionately affected by waste and pollution. SB 1137 passed 25-10 in the Senate and 46-24 in the Assembly, but four legislators, whose climate records CCAP has scrutinized, continued their legacy of sitting out this year’s key climate votes.  State Senator Bob Hertzberg and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva voted yes on all four bills, but Senator Steve Glazer, Senator Susan Rubio, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, and Assemblymember Tim Grayson all skipped the vote, failing to choose a side on this key legislation. In fact, Assemblymember Rubio did not vote on any of the four climate bills. 

One key bill that didn’t pass – SB 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act – would have required corporations that do business in California to report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The bill stalled in the Assembly, by just one vote.  Legislators’ inaction, and the bill’s subsequent failure, illuminates why it’s critical to hold legislators who claim to support climate action accountable against industry lobbying and campaign contributions.

CCAP will continue to call attention to the oil and gas industry’s influence in Sacramento, and hold legislators accountable for their role in blocking California’s climate progress. The legislative session may be over, but the fight against climate change continues. Next up, the state will need to move quickly on swift and equitable implementation of the passed climate legislation, and we need to ensure that, moving forward, the legislature is working to represent Californians – not oil and gas industry interests.

California is reaching a key climate moment. Legislators are considering dozens of bills that could bolster the state’s climate ambitions, but with only a few days left in the legislative session, the oil and gas industry is pulling out all the stops to push their agenda and delay these critical climate policies. 

Environmental and climate organizations are calling for bold climate action, urging legislators to:

  • Put California on the path to be carbon pollution-free
  • Keep oil wells away from California children
  • Pass legislation to cut carbon pollution by 55%
  • Get California to 100% clean energy by 2045
  • Create guardrails to limit carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Now is the moment for our leaders to side with Californians over oil and gas interests. Will legislators prioritize public health and our climate or will they let oil and gas executives block progress, take us backward, and squeeze profits at our expense?

Paid for by Fund for a Better Future