Make Polluters Pay

Dirty Thirty edition 3: Fossil fuel’s outsized lobbying influence

Fossil fuel companies spend millions in Sacramento lobbying against environmental protections and climate action.

Oil pump in the desert
Christopher Boswell |

Welcome to day 3 of The Dirty Thirty. Today, we’ll look at the outsized influence that oil and gas companies exert in the state capitol.

Gas and oil companies have developed a reputation as big spenders in Sacramento, attempting to influence our democratic systems. In 2022, fossil fuel companies spent $18 million on lobbying. Within the first half of 2023, they’ve already spent $13 million.

In the first quarter of 2023, oil and gas lobbying primarily focused on Gov. Newsom’s Price Gouging Penalty (SBX 1-2), with companies spending over $9 million to influence legislators against the transparency and accountability bill. Chevron, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, Valero, and PBF Energy — California’s top refiners — contributed a collective $5.6 million, more than half of this total spending. 

Before this, the same companies spent millions in a misinformation campaign against SB 1137, a policy signed into law by Newsom last year. This policy would have prohibited gas and oil drilling within 3,200 feet of sensitive areas. The fossil fuel industry succeeded in their influencing efforts, delaying the bill’s implementation through a referendum.

In addition to lobbying against policies that might infringe on oil industry profits at the expense of public health and the environment, fossil fuel companies also work to maintain the confidentiality of their emissions. Both the Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron launched lobbying campaigns against AB 1305 and SB 253, laws that would require emissions reporting. 

California lawmakers and office holders must firmly reject the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to weaken accountability, stifle environmental protections and stand in the way of the state’s necessary clean energy transition.

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staff | TPIN

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