Wieckowski lines up broad support for oil severance tax; prepares for U.N. climate conference

December 4, 2019

SACRAMENTO ­–  State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) has lined up more supporters for his legislation to have the oil industry pay an oil severance tax in California, as it does in every other major oil producing state.  Senate Bill 246 would raise approximately $900 million per year to better fund schools and other important services in California.

As many of the world’s leaders gather in Spain at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) 25, Wieckowski said it is time to demand more from the fossil fuel industry.

“California taxpayers have reached into their wallets to clean up the pollution and harmful legacy of abandoned wells left behind by oil companies that have shirked their responsibility to protect the public’s health and safety,” said Wieckowski, the chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation. “It is time for California to finally levy a tax that the industry routinely pays in other states.  The oil companies have reaped huge profits here without ever paying a severance tax to fund important services for taxpayers.”

Despite being an oil and gas producing state for over a century, California has never imposed a tax on the extraction of our fossil fuels.  SB 246 would impose a 10 percent oil and gas tax.  The revenue derived from the tax would go into the state’s general fund. 

“California shouldn’t be the only major oil producing state without an oil severance tax,” said Victoria Rome, California Legislative Director at Natural Resources Defense Council. “California produces some of the most carbon polluting crude on the planet.  We should not be subsidizing its production by allowing the oil industry to operate here without the tax they pay pretty much everywhere else, including Texas.”

In addition to the NRDC, SB 246 is also supported by the California Teachers Association, the SEIU State Council, the California Democratic Party, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas, Climate Resolve, Consumer Watchdog, Azul, Audubon California, CALSTART and the California State Parent Teachers Association, among other organizations.

Wieckowski will join American leaders at the U.S. Climate Action Center at the UN climate talks underway in Madrid. He is the only California state senator attending this year’s conference.  Leaders from state, city and tribal governments, businesses, colleges and universities, healthcare and other institutions, are stepping up as the federal government steps away from global climate leadership. 

This delegation of over 70 American leaders will be larger than the official federal U.S. government delegation to COP 25. The current list of the delegation can be found here. Collectively, coalitions of U.S. institutions taking action in support of the Paris Agreement represent nearly 70% of U.S. GDP and nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population. 

In a joint statement, the delegation vowed to continue making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and outlined what they hope to accomplish by attending the U.N. climate talks. Several organizations, including Climate Action Reserve, The Climate Registry and Georgetown Climate Center, worked together to host and coordinate the delegation. At COP 25, Wieckowski will meet with foreign governments, businesses and local leaders to share efforts to meet the United States’ Paris climate targets and explore opportunities for collaboration to jointly raise their ambition further.

Wieckowski will speak on several panels regarding California’s climate actions, adaptation, sustainable innovation and transportation.

Wieckowski will also be participating in events at the U.S. Climate Action Center hosted by We Are Still In. The Center will open its doors on December 6th for four full days of programming to highlight U.S. climate progress to the international community.

The announcement of the U.S. Climate Action Center and the delegation for COP 25 follows just weeks after President Trump began official procedures for withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement (a process that takes a full year to take effect).

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.