Chevron Defies California On Carbon Emissions

Chevron Corp. (CVX) helped write the first-in-the-nation rule ordering reduced carbon emissions from cars and trucks. Its biofuels chief spoke at the ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in 2007, the same year the oil company pledged to develop a gasoline replacement from wood.

Now Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to undercut the California mandate aimed at curbing global warming, two years after the state started phasing it in. Research on commercially viable climate-friendly products has come to naught, stymied by the poor economics of coaxing hydrocarbons from plants’ stubborn cell walls, according to Chevron officials.

New alliance forms to challenge oil industry on Calif. climate law

Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter

Published: 

“Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2012, Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC,” www.ClimateWire.net

A battle is heating up between part of the oil industry and supporters of California’s climate law.

A new group has come together with the goal of fighting arguments made by Fueling California, an organization that is targeting the Golden State’s low-carbon fuel standard. That rule aims to grow use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel.

The alliance, called Stop Fooling California, launched last month and reached out Sunday to local communities at Los Angeles events tied to the Keystone XL pipeline protest in Washington, D.C.

Stop Fooling California said it needs to get the word out that the oil industry’s messages about California’s climate rules are inaccurate.

“They wanted to buy their way out of being regulated,” said Martha Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a member of Stop Fooling California. “If we are going to change how we make and distribute energy, we are going to have to confront the power of the oil industry to stop our efforts.”

The new group comes forward as Fueling California steps up its efforts to stop or limit the low-carbon fuel standard. The group last month held a closed-door meeting to discuss how to tackle problems with that rule, which sets a goal of lowering fuels’ average carbon content 10 percent by 2020 (ClimateWire, Jan. 25).

Business groups want a ‘forum’

Fueling California unites Chevron Corp., United Airlines, Wal-Mart, UPS and other large fuel consumers. But a spokeswoman last month told the San Jose Mercury News that “the majority of our funding comes from Chevron.”

In an interview about the company’s membership in the group, Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen said that “we feel it’s important for businesses in the state that will be impacted [by the low carbon fuel standard] to have a forum” for discussing it. He added that Chevron has “one seat on the board.”

“There is a broad range of companies that are affected by California’s climate policies that are participating in discussions,” Tippen said.

However, according to a person who attended the closed-door meeting on the low-carbon fuel standard, there were no board members of Fueling California present other than Chevron. Other attendees included biofuels producers like Pacific Ethanol and Biodico, as well as natural gas companies and utilities, the attendee said (ClimateWire, Jan. 25).

The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry trade group, also is active in challenging the low-carbon rule. That group’s members include BP PLC, ConocoPhillips Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

Fueling California, according to its tax filing, took in about $290,000 in revenues in 2011, the most recent data available. The group spent roughly $327,760 on lobbying last year, according to the California Secretary of State.

Stop Fooling California is backed by the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Environment for a Better California, Consumer Action, the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club.

The new group has not yet filed a tax return but concedes that its financial resources are smaller than those of the oil industry. Its strategy is to use social networking, team with community organizations and youth groups, and participate in environmental and climate-related events to reach supporters.

“We are taking our message to the public,” Arguello said, “We have to remind legislators who elects them.”

Several members of the alliance participated in rallies held Sunday in Los Angeles that were tied to the larger protest in Washington, D.C., urging a block on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

A group from Stop Fooling California joined about 1,000 people who marched from downtown Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street to City Hall. Others participated in a similar rally at Loyola Marymount University in west Los Angeles.

“It was a great opportunity, a great solidarity to send a message here in California that we’re not going to put up with Big Oil putting profit over the health of our citizens and our environment,” said Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Global Green, a Los Angeles-based environmental nonprofit group.

Dueling messages

Stop Fooling California said its message will be that there are a “whole series of health benefits” related to the state’s climate law, Arguello said. That is meant to tackle what she said is Fueling California’s argument that the rules will hurt citizens.

“One of the main tactics has been to constantly raise this idea that California cannot afford to implement these climate regulations, that it will hurt the economy, that it will cost jobs,” Arguello said, adding that the oil group appears to want to “create the sense that we have to choose one or the other.”

“That’s the narrative and the story they want to tell,” that it is too expensive, she said. “They’ve said that about every major environmental” regulation. It is possible to both protect the environment and create jobs and buttress the economy, she asserted.

Tippen, the Chevron spokesman, argued that the state’s low-carbon fuel standard is an unworkable mandate.

Chevron, he said, has “researched 100 biofuel feedstocks and 50 unique conversion technologies,” and “at this time, it’s clear there won’t be enough to make the low-carbon fuel standard successful.”

“It’s not achievable at this time,” Tippen said. “We’re trying to put our emphasis into sound science.”

Fueling California and the Western States Petroleum Association are arguing that “additional research is needed to develop robust technologies,” Tippen said.

They also contend that there should not be a separate standard just in California, but instead, if there needs to be a rule, it should apply nationwide.

California: Big Oil AstroTurf Subverts Clean Air and Fuel Standards

While the public demands protections for air, land, and water, the California oil industry uses front groups and spends millions on lobbying the legislature, gaining disproportionate influence in subverting pollution and fuel standards. Keeping the economy addicted to climate-fouling fossil fuels and reaping billions in profits, Big Oil claims to be a “victim” of excessive regulation. Stop Fooling California!

Stop Fooling California, Big Oil!

By Miya Yoshitani and Bill Gallegos

California has long been a national leader in advancing environmental policies and voters have time and again supported our state’s renewable energy, clean air and climate laws. The reasons for this are simple. These common sense laws grow our economy, improve our health and hold polluters accountable for the pollution they created. Today, oil companies are trying to use their billions in annual profits to overturn the laws that an overwhelming majority of Californians support. How you ask? By employing front groups, raining money on lobbyists, and fabricating misinformation campaigns.

Chevron-backed Fueling California is the latest front group tasked with undercutting our clean fuel standards. Though they claim to represent corporate fuel consumers they recently held a closed-door meeting with oil industry leaders under the guise of formulating “alternatives” to our clean fuels goals, despite the fact Californians consistently express their support for these standards.

air quality california pollution

The public supports reasonable clean air and fuels standards that benefit people and the planet. At the same time, oil barons pour huge amounts of money into lobbying legislators, gaining influence and access to subvert, postpone or opt out of regulation.

The public supports reasonable clean air and fuels standards that benefit people and the planet. At the same time, oil barons pour huge amounts of money into lobbying legislators, gaining influence and access to subvert, postpone or opt out of regulation.

The use of front groups is only one tactic Big Oil uses to deceive Californians. The public supports reasonable clean air and fuels standards that benefit people and the planet. At the same time, oil barons pour huge amounts of money into lobbying legislators, gaining influence and access to subvert, postpone or opt out of regulation. In 2012, oil interests spent an astounding $25 million lobbying California officials while reaping a collective $119 billion in global profits. And yet these very companies claim they cannot afford to comply with California’s clean air and fuel standards.

In 2012 three groups, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Western States Petroleum Association andCalifornia Manufacturers & Technology Association, collectively spent $19.8 million to weaken clean air laws. Imagine if they used that to actually clean up the air. It gets worse, instead of owning up to their polluting ways, they use “AstroTurf” groups like Fueling California to do their bidding in an attempt to circumvent their overtly, and justifiably so, toxic image.

Attempting to deceive Californians into believing that oil companies are the victim is a strategy they are unlikely to abandon in the near future. Especially when they know Californians spent more than $60 billion on dirty fuels in 2011. When in one minute you make more than what 96 percent of American households make in an entire year, you don’t want to give that up. Or clean up your mess.

Chevron, Richmond, California

Smoke from the Chevron refinery filled the sky above Richmond after a series of explosions that sent more than 15,000 people to the hospital. Chevron management chose to bypass repairs and keep using a pipe that was 80 percent corroded, which caused the fire. Photo: Lance Iversen, The Chronicle

In California, there’s no better example of oil companies placing profits over people than the Richmond refinery explosion of 2012. Despite noting extreme corrosion in earlier surveys, Chevron management chose to bypass repairs and keep using a pipe that was 80 percent corroded. The result? A massive explosion that sent more than 15,000 people to the hospital, engulfed a large part of the Bay Area in smoke and nearly killed a dozen employees.

Fortunately, Californians can see through the deceptive tactics oil companies love to utilize. We know they want to keep their monopoly, despite the asthma plaguing our children. We know they’ll mislead consumers in the name of profits, despite the voters supporting clean air and fuel standards that protect people and the planet.

That’s why we are part of the founding endorser organizations of the Stop Fooling CA campaign. We’re partnering with California’s leading health, consumer, clean air and environmental groups to show the oil industry that we know better by calling out their misinformation campaigns and greed-fueled attempts to deceive Californians. It’s time for Big Oil to clean up its act. It is time for them to Stop Fooling California.

Miya Yoshitani
Associate Director
Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Bill Gallegos
Executive Director
Communities for a Better Environment

www.StopFoolingCA.org
#StopFoolingCA