NEXTGEN CLIMATE FOUNDER & PRESIDENT TOM STEYER CALLS FOR ANSWERS FROM BIG OIL ON GAS PRICE SPIKE IN CALIFORNIA
Steyer Says If Oil Company Executives Won’t Answer Questions They Should Face Subpoena
May 5, 2015 3:53 PM
SAN FRANCISCO—NextGen Climate Founder and President Tom Steyer today spoke at a Chevron gas station about the recent gas price spike in California and called on the State Senate to subpoena oil company executives if they refuse to provide answers to basic questions about their pricing and oil refining practices.
“As everyone knows, the oil companies have been charging Californians up to $1 billion per month more for gasoline than if we paid the national average,” Steyer said. “It’s time to put an end to the Big Oil giveaway, and start giving Californians a fair shake.”
Steyer also highlighted recent comments made by Chevron during its first quarter earnings call with investors last week. Chevron’s general manager of investor relations, Jeff Gustavson, noted that refining margins “increased earnings by $435 million driven by unplanned industry downtime and tight product supply on the U.S. West Coast.”
As Steyer noted, Chevron is saying for the oil industry, “their problems were good for their profits.” Steyer also highlighted the problem with the lack of transparency into the oil industry’s business practices, saying “we don’t have the facts we need in order to know if we’re paying fair prices based on the market, or if oil companies are deliberately taking actions which lower supplies and drive profits higher.”
Oil company executives had the opportunity to show up for a Senate hearing in March, to answer questions and allow Californians to judge whether they are being unfairly gouged at the pump. But industry executives refused to show up, instead sending a paid economist who then claimed he didn’t speak for the oil companies. If these executives continue refusing to answer for their business practices, the State Senate should subpoena these executives to force them to answer to Californians. Once Big Oil answers this call, we can begin to fix California’s rigged gasoline market and give Californians the fair shake they deserve.
NextGen Climate is focused on bringing climate change to the forefront of American politics. Founded by Tom Steyer in 2013, NextGen Climate acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans.
Repost from The Sacramento Bee [Editor: Significant quote: “The resulting funds, estimated at $11 million in the first full year, will be allocated for oil spill prevention and preparation work, and for emergency cleanup costs. The efforts will be focused on spills that threaten waterways, and will allow officials to conduct response drills.” Of course, we won’t need this fund if we simply STOP crude by rail and move toward clean energy. – RS]
California to impose fee on crude oil rail shipments; funds to be used for spill prevention, cleanup
By Tony Bizjak, The Sacramento Bee | Jun. 16, 2014
California leaders have included several safety provisions in this year’s state budget with the aim of preventing toxic spills and fires as oil companies ship more crude oil on trains through cities and wildland areas.
Beginning in the coming fiscal year, the state will apply a 6.5-cent fee on oil companies for every barrel of crude that arrives in California on rail, or that is piped to refineries from inside the state. The resulting funds, estimated at $11 million in the first full year, will be allocated for oil spill prevention and preparation work, and for emergency cleanup costs. The efforts will be focused on spills that threaten waterways, and will allow officials to conduct response drills.
The budget also separately includes funds to hire seven more rail safety inspectors for the California Public Utilities Commission, PUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said.
The 6.5-cent shipping charge will be administered by the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response. “We consider this a great victory,” office administrator Tom Cullen said Monday. Until now, the office’s scope has been confined mainly to coastal areas. “We weren’t positioned in California to prepare for and respond to oil spills on the interior of the state.”
Cullen and others negotiated the shipping charge over the weekend with oil industry officials. The charge, an extension of an existing marine fee, may be the first of several steps California officials take in coming months to improve the state’s ability to minimize oil spills and handle them more effectively when they happen.
Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, said his organization will work with the state on the issue.
“The new revenues, the first place they should go, is to make sure local responders are adequately equipped,” Hull said. “We recognized from the beginning that this is a legitimate issue.”
The safety efforts have taken on urgency as oil companies reveal plans for hundreds of crude-by-rail shipments in California, including a proposal by the Valero Refining Co. to ship 100 crude oil tank cars a day through downtown Sacramento and downtown Davis to Benicia. Details of that plan are expected to be released by Benicia officials Tuesday.
Federal officials have warned that one of the crude oils being shipped into the state, from the Bakken region of North Dakota, appears to be more flammable than typical crude oils. Three recent train crashes and explosions, including one that killed 47 people in the Canadian city of Lac-Megantic last year, prompted federal transportation officials last month to require that railroads notify state emergency officials of large Bakken shipment times and routes.
Central to the state’s safety efforts will be keeping a closer watch on the tracks themselves. The state budget includes seven new rail inspector positions to help the California Public Utilities Commission fulfill its mandate to inspect every mile of rail in the state annually. PUC deputy director of rail safety programs Paul King said his agency has failed in that task some years because of lack of personnel.
With rail crude oil shipments on the rise, it’s critical that the state steps up now, King said. “The Bakken crude in particular is a big problem. This is a lot of volatile material coming in on routes where it hasn’t come in before.”
The state Senate on Monday passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal agencies to write tougher standards for train tank cars and to “prioritize safety over cost effectiveness” in dealing with rail crude shipments. Federal officials have said they intend to improve design standards for rail cars hauling crude oil, but haven’t set a date.
Sens. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced a bill last week that would impose a second shipping fee on oil companies to be used to train and equip “first responders,” such as fire departments and hazardous materials crews, to deal with major spills and fires on railroad lines. The authors have not yet determined the fee amount.
“It’s not a matter of will (a spill) happen, it’s when,” Hill said. “We have to be prepared. We need to provide the resources for first responders to address the emergency.”
A recent state report found that 40 percent of local firefighters in the state are volunteers whose departments generally lack the training and equipment to deal with major hazardous materials spills.
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, also has authored a bill requiring rail carriers to communicate more closely with state emergency officials about crude oil rail movements.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/06/16/6488137/california-to-impose-fee-on-crude.html#storylink=c
UPDATE: From: Judi Sullivan Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 5:13 PM Subject: California SB1132 Fails to Pass in the CA Senate
According to Senator Mitchell’s office at around 4:00 p.m. today, SB 1132 failed with a vote of 16 Ayes( yes votes) to 16 Noes (no votes), with 8 senators abstaining. 21 votes were needed for it to pass. The oil companies won this round.
California Senate Bill 1132 (Fracking Moratorium) fails on May 28 – another vote on May 29
[Editor: I received the following report and call to action from Judi Sullivan. Read and make those phone calls! – RS]
The vote was close. 18 to 16. 21 votes are needed to pass the Bill. A repeal was requested and granted. Another vote will be taken tomorrow on the Bill and that one will be final.
It was suggested to call or to email the following Democratic Senators, or even better, if you know any of their constituents, to ask them to call and request a YES vote on SB 1132. The democratic senators who voted against the Bill are:
S. Lara from Long Beach: 916-651-4033, S. Torres from San San Diego: 916-652-4032, S. Hernandez from L.A: 926-651-4024. I’m not sure where these other senators are from but you can look them up. All represent the fracking areas. S. Correia, I think is from Modesto, 916-652-4034, , S. Waso: I think is from the L A area. I don’t have his number.
Senator Mitchell’s office representative didn’t think it would be worth it to call the other Republican Senators who voted against the Bill as they aren’t likely to change their minds.
We still have a chance. Only three swing votes are needed. I’m going to call all of them again and I hope that some of you will make some calls, too. If you know anyone in the districts that voted against the Bill, it’s important to have them realize that they are the most vulnerable to the health and safety dangers of fracking. Any of us can call, but the ones with the most influence will naturally be those who live in the districts where a change vote could make a difference.
Even if the Bill fails, a strong stand has been taken by the public. The oil companies have felt the strength of the grassroots effort. Testimonies given at the hearings were specific, compelling and well documented scientifically with none of the statistics re: concern for the health and safety of our earth, air, water, wildlife and people refuted by the opposition.
Progress has been made. Awareness is growing, as is our power base. This may or may not be reflected in the vote tomorrow, but as a movement, we ARE on the rise and will prevail.
Much Love and Light,
Later: Another democratic senator to call that was left off the first list
Democratic Senator Galiano from Orange City: 916-651-4005.
Explaining concerns in addition to asking for a YES vote is most effective.
Passing this Bill does not effect their district’s current revenue from fracking unless current fracking sites are not following regulations set by SB 4. SB 1132 prohibits more oil stimulation wells from being established until health and safety issues for the population, land , air and water quality can be properly addressed and regulated, extending accountability by requiring a DEIR by July 2015.
In addition to other comments being made, I also have been mentioning that our city, for the first time in our history, is not receiving a water allotment from the State , emphasizing the drain being experienced up north which is related to the enormous amount of water required for fracking.
The final vote in the Senate on this Bill for this year is today. If it doesn’t pass, the oil companies will have free reign to drill more wells. When this Bill was first introduced, 90 more wells were planned. That estimate has increased considerably.
Please do what you can. It only takes a few minutes.
Exclusive to The Benicia Independent
[Editor: Thanks to Benician Judi Sullivan for her monitoring of California Senate hearings and for this report. – RS]
Report on Anti-Fracking Bill in California Senate
By Judi Sullivan | May 19, 2014
SB 1132, The Oil and Gas Well Stimulation Bill (Anti fracking/acidizing), was put before it’s third committee today, the Appropriations Committee, and placed in the Suspense File. This is where all bills may be held if they are considered to have an annual cost of more than $150,000. Because of this stipulation, there was no official vote on the Bill. It is now under fiscal analysis to be reconsidered on Friday during the Suspense File Hearing, during which time no testimony is presented by the bill’s author nor by witnesses. A vote will then be taken and if the bill passes, it will go in front of the entire Senate.
The committee room, which was much larger than previous ones used for the first two hearings, was once again a packed house with supporters of the bill from all over the state. One woman who spoke said she took a nine hour Amtrak Train from L.A. just to be there to testify against fracking. ALL of the public testimonies given were in support of the bill. The Western States Petroleum Association, (WSPA), which is the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, was the official testifying opponent.
In the course of conversation at the hearing, it was revealed that Conservative Republican Senator Ted Gaines, who appears to be against SB 1132, may become a new supporter of “No Crude by Rail.” He lives in Roseville, and has recently become seriously concerned about the transportation risks of that commodity. Roseville is a major hub of Crude by Rail’s route.
Senator Pavley, (supported by Senators Wolk and Lara) presented SB 1319, promoting “Oil Spill Prevention Response,” seeking regulations for Marine, Pipeline and Crude by Rail Transports to be under one regulation which would include having local governments informed of what is being transported through their areas at any given time.
According to her findings, Governor Brown is forming a new staff of 38 people to deal with the concerns of this Bill.
After the hearing sessions, some of the anti-fracking supporters rallied with posters and chanting in front of The California History Museum on “O” St. where Governor Brown was speaking at a Conference concerning Climate Change.
—— Later ——
Just got a request suggesting calling these Senators to try and gain their support, asking them to vote yes on SB 1132:
Senator Kevin De Leon (916) 651-4022
Senator Ricardo Lara (916) 651-4033
Senator Ed Hernandez (916) 651-4024
Senator Cathleen Galliano (916) 651-4005
Senator Ben Hueso (916) 651-4040
Senator Lou Correa (916) 651-4034
Senator Carol Liu (916) 651-4025
Senator Richard Roth (916) 651-4031
Senator Norma Torres (916-652-4032
If SB 1132 passes the Senate vote, the four committee hearing process will start all over again in the Assembly. If it passes there, then Governor Brown will have his vote. I have talked with Senator Mitchell’s and Senator Leno’s staff, the main co-sponsors of this bill, and both recommend calling Governor Brown’s office right now to demonstrate public support on this crucial issue. Writing to him is also an option.
Brown has the power to pass or veto the bill. I feel it would be wise to call him. His phone number is (916) 445-2841. As we know, he has received substantial donations from Big Oil.