Oil and Gas Spent Big Money for Big Influence in 2023 – CA Climate Accountability Project

Oil and Gas Spent Big Money for Big Influence in 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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