More Oil Spreads Across the State

by Mike Young

More Oil Spreads Across the State

In case you’re wondering if we’ve hit peak oil, if campaign contributions are any indication, we probably haven’t. Last week Jenesse pointed out the sheer amount of oil money making its way into legislative elections across California. Big Oil’s goal? Defeating environmental candidates like Henry Stern in Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley and Eloise Gomez Reyes in San Bernardino.

Now we know two more elections Big Oil is trying to buy: Senate District 15 in San Jose and Assembly District 4 in Napa.

Voters in these districts are already seeing ads from an independent expenditure by the “Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, Including Energy Companies who Produce Gas, Oil, Jobs and Pay Taxes” (is it me or is Big Oil sounding a little defensive?). But who are these supposed middle class champions? None other than Big Oil companies like Chevron, Valero, and Tesero who have collectively spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the last decade to elect candidates who are beholden to their agenda and to lobby California’s legislature.

Senate District 15: Oil goes after Jim Beall

This one looks like it’s pure payback. Senator Jim Beall has a 97% CLCV environmental lifetime score, but more importantly, he was a co-author of the bills SB 32 and SB 350. SB 32 would have expanded and strengthen California’s world-renown climate and clean energy law, and SB 350 in its purest form would have helped California achieve 50% renewable energy and reduced our petroleum consumption by 50% by 2030. Senator Beall was a steadfast ally who voted for both, but in the end, a group of Oil Caucus Democrats managed to block SB 32 from passing out of the Assembly outright and remove the petroleum reduction provision of SB 350. Now, one of the Assembly Democrats who did not vote for SB 32 is challenging Beall—and Big Oil has already spent $330,000 to help her. Apparently, no good deed goes unpunished.

Assembly District 4: Oil doesn’t want Dan Wolk

As Mayor of Davis, Dan Wolk has pushed to make the city more sustainable and including supporting policies to encourage clean energy. Wolk was a strong and vocal supporter of SB 32 and SB 350, and he would have been a solid vote for the environment on both bills. Big Oil knows this, and that’s why they’re spending over $150,000 to support Wolk’s opponent who would not have supported these bills.

These great environmental candidates need your help, and no doubt Big Oil will spend whatever it has to spend in order to make sure they don’t get elected. $300,000 for one race might seem like a lot to you or me, but it’s a drop in the barrel for Big Oil. With a little less than a month to go, you can bet they’re just getting started.

Posted on May 12, 2016 in Groundswell Blog.

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