Coalition to California Attorney General: Keep Your Eye on Big Oil

Aug 19, 2014
By Jenesse Miller

Today, several environmental, labor, and other groups delivered a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris, writing on behalf of millions of our California members to express strong concerns about the potential manipulation of gasoline prices by oil companies, as transportation fuels come under the greenhouse gas emissions cap created by AB 32, California's landmark climate and clean energy law.

On January 1st 2015, AB 32 will begin to cap emissions from transportation fuels. Those fuels are the largest source of pollution in our state and 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. For far too long, low-income communities in California have borne the impact of some of the worst air quality in the country—a result of a massive transportation system dependent on dirty, polluting fossil fuels.

But Big Oil continues to try to undermine the law and escape their obligation to participate in the state's cap-and-trade program. They're unfortunately getting help from some of California's lawmakers in their misleading effort. Many grassroots groups including CLCV are fighting back.

An excerpt of the letter to Attorney General Harris, signed by NextGen Climate, CLCV, Courage Campaign, SEIU California, Environmental Defense Fund, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California Environmental Justice Alliance, and others, is below:

"In an effort to address this public health crisis and support a more sustainable economy, California is championing programs and policies that are both cleaning up and diversifying our fuel mix. Unfortunately, the fuels market in California continues to be dominated by a handful of producers who seek to undermine these critical policies through a massive misinformation campaign. The oil industry is currently spending millions of dollars on a lobbying and public relations campaign designed to roll back the law. A cornerstone of their campaign is an implicit — and in some cases explicit — threat that the oil industry will increase gasoline prices for California consumers if it is forced to comply with AB 32.

Your office has been a leader in efforts to protect consumers, and we trust that you will take these issues seriously. We look forward to supporting your efforts to closely monitor the situation and ensure oil companies in California aren’t unlawfully colluding to manipulate prices and manufacturing political dissent.”

The letter was covered by Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee:

A coalition of unions, environmental organizations and other liberal groups are trying to enlist Attorney General Kamala Harris in their efforts to beat back an oil industry campaign to scuttle the state’s plan to expand its cap-and-trade program to vehicle fuels in January.

Signed by representatives of the Courage Campaign, SEIU and NextGen Climate – whose founder, billionaire philantrapist Tom Steyer, has pledged to spend millions this year opposing candidates who deny climate change -- a letter to Harris on Tuesday suggests that the oil industry will collude to raise gas prices if the regulation takes effect.

The industry-backed “Fed Up at the Pump” campaign has tried to generate public opposition to the plan.

We hope the Attorney General will respond to the letter soon, and we will of course continue to monitor Big Oil and their allies' dirty tricks as they continue their campaign to avoid responsibility for reducing their carbon pollution while cleaning up our air.

(Help fight back: contact your lawmakers to ask them to protect California's clean air and climate leadership by standing up to attacks on AB 32:

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