NRDC Report Exposes Big Oil’s Smoke and Mirror Tactics

Front Groups & Extensive Spending Aimed at Curbing California’s Clean Energy Action

SAN FRANCISCO (November 6, 2014) – Major oil companies are propping up at least eight front groups in a last-ditch campaign to subvert California’s climate action law requiring them to pay for their carbon pollution beginning in January 2015, while spending record-setting sums in Sacramento to influence lawmakers, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Big Oil believes it can hide behind slick marketing and scare tactics to avoid responsibility for its share of California’s climate pollution,” said Merrian Borgeson, senior scientist at NRDC. “But our clean energy policies cut dangerous emissions, boost the state’s economy, and drive investment in our most disadvantaged communities. Why should oil companies get a free pass when the state’s other major polluters are complying?”

The report, “Unmasked: The Oil Industry Campaign to Undermine California’s Clean Energy Future: Millions Spent on Front Groups, Lobbying, and Scare Tactics to Keep Californians Dependent on Oil,reveals strong oil industry connections to at least eight groups that claim to be grassroots organizations representing ordinary consumers and businesses. At least five have an explicit link to the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), which includes oil goliaths like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips, BP, and other oil companies.

The eight groups are: California Drivers Alliance, Fed Up at the Pump, Fueling California, Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy (CARE), Californians for Energy Independence aka “Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future,” CA Fuel Facts, Californians Against Higher Taxes, and Californians Against Higher Oil Taxes.

Meanwhile, figures released just last week show the oil industry has spent more than $70 million on lobbying in California since 2009, with WSPA and Chevron spending more than half of the total. The oil industry spent almost twice as much in the third quarter of 2014 than in the second, paying more than $3,000 per hour to advance the industry’s fossil fuel agenda in Sacramento from July through September.

Rather than investing in cleaner sources of energy, more efficient production and refining processes, and less polluting products, the oil industry has invested in a lobbying campaign to delay or dismantle California’s climate and clean energy law, AB 32, that is already helping to break California’s dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

“Twice as many Californians die early deaths from the health impacts of oil pollution from vehicles than from motor vehicle accidents annually,” said Borgeson. “We can’t let the oil industry’s scaremongering impede California’s progress toward a cleaner future.” 

The report notes that California’s climate policies reduce oil dependence, transportation costs, and pollution-related health bills. By 2030, AB 32’s clean energy policies will save California households an average of more than $2,000 annually due to cars that go farther on a gallon, greater fuel competition, cheaper fuels like clean electricity, and better access to public transit.  

The full report can be found here:

Borgeson’s blog can be found here:

An infographic and graphs are available.


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