California’s frontline communities are under attack by the oil and gas industry which actively perpetuates the ongoing climate crisis, disproportionately impacting the health and livelihoods of low-income and Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander residents. The weakness of the California’s Legislature’s opposition to the oil and gas industry is reflected in the recently released California Climate Accountability Project’s tool which reveals the total amount of money that state legislators received directly from the oil and gas industry for their previous election campaign. The Climate Accountability Project also gives letter grades to the state legislators based on their voting records on significant climate legislation that the oil and gas industry lobbied against.
In this year’s report, 42 legislators received a “C” grade or lower, including 15 “Ds” and 20 “Fs”. On top of this, a shocking 79% of legislators took money from the oil and gas industry during their 2021-2022 election campaigns, including 77% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans. These numbers suggest that the oil and gas industry influences the majority of California’s legislators, Democrat and Republican.
Deep, systemically racist health and economic injustices continue to plague California's communities. As oil and gas companies continue to drill near our parks, and hospitals, and homes, poor air quality disproportionately endangers the health and life expectancy of communities of color that already suffer from higher rates of pre-existing medical conditions.
Unless equitable, environmentally just policies are enacted to correct historic environmental racism—amplified by the ongoing climate crisis—inequities and health disparities will only get worse for California's Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color communities.
As California seeks to create a clean energy future, the oil and gas industry continues to push back on key climate legislation to ensure that they continue to profit from fossil fuels. The oil and gas industry has already spent millions of dollars influencing state legislators to oppose policies that would expand renewable energy from clean sources like solar and wind, improve California’s electrical vehicle infrastructure, and transition our buildings to be powered by zero-emissions energy. If they continue to succeed, Californians, especially low-income communities of color, will continue to face the devasting effects of climate change, exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels.
As our state faces flooding, climate-amplified wildfire, extreme heat, and an ongoing pollution and health crisis, California lawmakers must address long-standing environmental racism with bold, equitable policies for low-income and working-class families across the state who are living on the frontlines of poverty and pollution. This includes standing up to the oil and gas industry, that seeks to undermine crucial climate-forward policy by advancing harmful environmental practices, such as the continued reliance on burning fossil fuels.
Take a look at CCAP's tool to see if your state representative is being swayed by oil and gas money and voice your disappointment about their poor environmental justice voting records. Contact your legislator now and let them know about taking actions to improve our health and quality of life matters to you. Urge them to prioritze and support environmental justice and remind them that their failure to do so will not go unnoticed.