Tag Archives: Carbon emissions

Newsom’s Inaction Puts California Legislation Requiring Companies to Pay for Oil and Gas Well Cleanup in Limbo

[Note from BenIndy: Please take a minute to tell Governor Newsom to sign AB 1167. Here is his phone number:  (916) 445-2841, and here is a phone script, provided by 350 Bay Area Action: 

Phone script:  Hello, my name is ____________.  I live in ____________,  California and I’m a climate supporter of 350 Bay Area Action.  I am calling to ask the Governor to sign AB 1167, the bill requiring adequate bonding for plugging oil wells.  I want our state to do everything we can to protect the health of impacted communities and address the climate emergency.

Click this image to go to the governor’s contact form page. You will be redirected to a new site.

Prefer activism by email? You can urge Gov. Newsom to sign AB 1167 using his contact web form (clicking these links will redirect you to his contact page). There will be a drop-down menu where you can select the topic as “An Active Bill” and then another drop-down menu where you can select “AB 1167.” Follow the instructions to write a message. Please also note that our elected state representatives, Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblymember Lori Wilson, neglected to vote on this important bill.]


“A Setup for Disaster”: California Legislation Requiring Companies to Pay for Oil and Gas Well Cleanup in Limbo

An oil rig silhouetted by a golden sunset.
The bill, which awaits a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, follows ProPublica’s reporting on the multibillion-dollar cost to clean up California’s oil and gas industry and the exodus of major companies shifting ownership of thousands of aging wells. | Uncredited image.

ProPublica, by Mark Olalde, October 4, 2023

The California Legislature recently passed a bill that would provide the state’s taxpayers some of the strongest protections in the nation against having to pay for the cleanup of orphaned oil and gas wells. But Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated if he will sign it.

AB1167 would require companies that purchase idle or low-producing wells — those at high risk of being left to the state — to set aside enough money to cover the entire cost of cleanup. Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who authored the bill with the support of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment California, said it’s needed to “stem the tide” of orphaned wells.

Newsom has until Oct. 14 to make a decision. A spokesperson declined to comment, saying the governor would evaluate the bill “on its merits.” The state’s Department of Finance released a two-page analysis opposing it.

It costs more than $180,000 to clean up an average orphan well in California, the state told the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2021, according to documents ProPublica obtained via a public records request. This includes plugging the well with cement, removing aboveground infrastructure like pumpjacks and decontaminating the site. But bonds, which are financial instruments guaranteeing to pay for cleanup, cover only a tiny fraction of that cost. A ProPublica analysis of state data found that oil and gas companies have set aside only about $2,400 per well. (State oil regulators are currently reevaluating companies’ bonds to increase them within existing law, which does not mandate that they cover the entire cleanup cost.)

Left unplugged, many wells leak climate-warming methane, brine and toxins that were used in the drilling process.

Newsom has until Oct. 14 to make a decision.  | Uncredited image.

“It’s a setup for disaster,” said Ann Alexander, a Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney.

The bill follows ProPublica’s reporting on the exodus of oil majors from the state’s declining industry — one sale last year saw more than 23,000 wells move from Shell and ExxonMobil to a little-known German asset management group called IKAV — and on the multibillion-dollar cost to clean up the industry. ProPublica’s work was repeatedly cited by the Legislature and the bill’s supporters.

Despite its green reputation, California has a long history of weak oversight of its oil and gas industry, which has left behind an estimated 5,300 orphaned wells. Many are scattered across Los Angeles, complicating redevelopment. Others spew methane in Kern County’s huge oilfields.

Companies have little incentive to plug wells; it’s cheaper to sell or to walk away and forfeit the small bonds currently required by the state.

“It’s too easy for them right now to offload those unproductive oil wells to newer or less-resourced companies that may turn around and go bankrupt and that don’t have the adequate financial capacity to do the job of cleaning up,” said Laura Deehan, director of Environment California.

The Western States Petroleum Association and California Independent Petroleum Association industry trade groups warned state lawmakers that “this misguided bill will increase the number of orphan oil wells in California.” The organizations argued that requiring bonds that cover the full cleanup cost would dissuade sales to companies hoping to enter the market. This, in turn, could lead to well owners getting stuck with the expensive cleanup, causing insolvency and ultimately leaving the wells with the state.

Dwayne Purvis is a petroleum reservoir engineer who authored a study that estimated it would cost as much as $21.5 billion to clean up California’s oil industry. He pointed out that the most common type of bond — a surety policy — is similar to insurance guaranteeing a well will be plugged, so oil companies wouldn’t have to set aside the full cleanup cost in cash to comply with AB1167. Federal regulators recently found these bonds are relatively cheap.

If that stops companies from buying wells in California, Purvis said, then there’s a bigger problem: “This admits — implicitly but almost inescapably — that the cost of plugging exceeds the value of remaining production,” he told ProPublica via email.

A Western States Petroleum Association spokesperson did not address questions about its claims. The California Independent Petroleum Association did not respond to requests for comment.

In negotiations over the bill, according to people present, the trade associations pointed to one example in particular to highlight why the legislation would create more orphan wells — the sales of some of the more than 750 wells orphaned following bankruptcy filings by multiple entities in the Greka group of companies. The sales, the industry argued, presented an opportunity for the wells to be plugged by an oil company, not the state.

However, hundreds of the wells remain on the orphaned list to this day, only they’re now associated with a new company: Team Operating.

Greka’s CEO and Team Operating didn’t respond to emails requesting comment.

The bill does carry a potential loophole, experts cautioned: whether the increased bond requirements in the bill would apply to wells transferred through shell companies, as is often the case.

The state Department of Finance’s opposition to the bill relied on three arguments.

The agency’s report claimed that large companies with enough resources to plug wells are coming into the California market. But research shows these producers are exiting the state and handing off their aging, unprofitable wells to smaller companies that are less likely to be able to afford cleanup.

Its analysis also suggested that bond underwriting companies are “becoming hesitant” to do business in California. Purvis said that if these companies believe the situation is too risky to guarantee cleanup costs will be paid, “then the taxpayers of California probably should not extend producers the same credit.”

Finally, the report argued the bill is unnecessary because California regulators already have the authority to recoup plugging costs from wells’ previous owners.

While existing law gives the state this authority, it only applies to wells transferred after Jan. 1, 1996. Oil drilling in California dates back to the 1860s, and many thousands of wells were sold prior to the law’s cutoff, meaning the state can’t go after the wells’ former operators.

ProPublica reviewed the state’s list of orphaned wells and found numerous examples of well cleanups being left to taxpayers despite the wells being sold after 1996. In those cases, the state either hasn’t used its authority or has otherwise failed to secure plugging funds.

Department of Finance analysts referred questions to the state’s oil regulators, who were the source for much of the report. A spokesperson for the California Geologic Energy Management Division said state regulators have obtained money from previous owners on occasion.

But going after older operators is difficult, said Rob Schuwerk, a former New York assistant attorney general and the North American executive director of the energy finance think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative, and bonds are guaranteed money.

“There’s no better substitute for having the cash,” he said.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

‘Decoy’ carbon capture bill halted after fossil fuel lobbyists’ deception exposed

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: Per the person who sent me this story: ‘Same thing, different day.’ And he’s right. For fossil fuel lobbyists to admit that they are intentionally deceiving lawmakers with an old-fashioned legislative bait-‘n-switch? Wow. That said, there’s a lot of money in being credulous, or easy to deceive, especially if you’re a lawmaker.  All power to the folks at Capital & Main for doing the Land’s work.]

California’s Decoy Carbon Capture Bill Shut Down Following Capital & Main Report

An oil rig silhouetted by a golden sunset.

State senator cites story, which revealed oil lobbyist’s misleading tactics.

Capital & Main’s The Slick, by Aaron Cantú, July 5, 2023

A California state senate bill meant to clarify rules for carbon capture and storage was pulled from further consideration last week — in the wake of a Capital & Main report that the legislation was part of a possible ruse by the fossil fuel industry to roll back pipeline safety rules, according to an oil and gas lobbyist who described the scheme. SB 438, carried by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced), purports to shield companies from penalties if they produce oil while injecting carbon into the ground — which would run afoul of California’s law on carbon capture.

A lobbyist had said that the bill would later be altered to allow the construction of carbon pipelines in California before federal safety rules are implemented.

In her comments, Caballero pushed back against Capital & Main’s reporting, which she stated was “filled with misleading information and incredulous accusations.”

“In no way shape or form am I going to allow any lobbyist or industry to hijack my bill for their own use,” the senator said. “This is not how I conduct my business, and my time in the Legislature has shown that I engage in a transparent and collaborative manner.”

Capturing and burying carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas heating up the planet — is viewed by fossil fuel industries, some climate policy experts and international organizations such as the U.N. as a necessary tool to fight the worsening climate crisis.

But the extent to which it should be used is disputed. Critics point out the technology captures far less CO2 than is emitted by fossil fuel infrastructure. They also warn it is being used to prolong the use of oil, gas and coal, which scientists say must be phased out as quickly as possible to limit ongoing damage from climate change.

Environmental justice groups also say that pipelines transporting carbon are dangerous. CO2 would be sent from urban refineries and gas power plants to depleted oil and gas fields in the Central Valley, which geologists say are ideal for storing carbon. But this could expose communities near pipelines to CO2 leaks. The gas asphyxiates people and animals and can stall vehicles responding to mass emergency events.

In an interview, Theo Pahos, a lobbyist whose firm’s clients include gas power plant company Calpine and the California Independent Petroleum Association, told Capital & Main that he and unnamed others came up with an idea to deceive lawmakers and environmentalists through Caballero’s bill.

He described how carbon capture advocates hatched a plan to push Caballero to alter the legislation before it was considered by the State Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. The lobbyists’ real intention, Pahos explained, was to use the bill as a placeholder and later replace its language with a proposal to rescind a moratorium on intrastate pipelines. The moratorium is currently in place until a federal agency finalizes safety rules.

“To alleviate the concerns that have been circulating about the future intent of this bill, I have decided to ask the chair to hold the bill today to make it a two year bill,” Caballero told Assembly lawmakers in a hearing of the chamber’s Natural Resources Committee on June 26.

Making it a two-year bill means the legislation will be up for consideration again in 2024. Since California’s legislative session unfolds in two-year intervals, lawmakers can choose to withhold a bill introduced in the first year, usually if they don’t think it has the votes to pass.

Caballero carried a bill last year that resulted in California’s carbon capture regulations. It was part of a package that codified into law the state’s 2045 goal of achieving carbon neutrality — meaning California will emit an equivalent amount of warming gases as it removes from the atmosphere. Caballero voted for this legislation as well as setbacks between oil wells and homes.

This year, Caballero missed a vote on a key bill for corporate emissions disclosures and another to divest pension funds from fossil fuels, eliciting criticism from a watchdog group. She’s received $3,000 from ExxonMobil since 2019; last November, she refunded a $1,500 contribution from the company. Luiz Quinonez, her chief of staff, said it was refunded because Caballero isn’t accepting fossil fuel industry contributions.

Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando), who chairs the Natural Resources Committee, said she sat down with Caballero to discuss Pahos’ allegations after Capital & Main contacted Rivas’ office for comment.

“You said that that was not your intention, to gut and amend this bill to do something [contrary to what] we agreed to in a deal last year as part of the climate package, which has to do with pipeline safety,” Rivas said to Caballero.

Although Caballero pledged to bring the bill back up again next year, she also described “unresolved issues” around pipeline safety and “unitization,” a reference to surface and mineral rights as they pertain to pipelines. Caballero said she has been working with the Newsom administration to draft legislation addressing those issues.

‘We’ve been working on that, with all the stakeholders, but that was not [SB 438],” Caballero said.

The sole witness to speak on the bill, environmental lawyer Dan Ress with the Center on  Race, Poverty and the Environment, testified that the moratorium was a key part of the legislative deal that resulted in the carbon capture law.

“We appreciate the senator pulling the bill for this year, and look forward to being added to the group of stakeholders engaged as you’re talking about pipeline safety,” Ress said.

For interested folks, I took a look at Caballero’s CA Climate Accountability score and . . . yup. Checks out.

‘Guns for hire’ – 1,500 lobbyists representing liberal, green clients ‘also working’ for fossil fuels firms

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Kathy Kerridge: There is a lot of talk about addressing climate change, and some action, but much of the current action like funding carbon capture and storage is expensive, promotes the continuation of using fossil fuels and does not work.  This article may get us to thinking about why that is.]

‘Double agents’: fossil-fuel lobbyists work for US groups trying to fight climate crisis

A new database of fossil fuel lobbyists shows how they represent clients with contradictory aims. Illustration: Javier Palma/The Guardian

New database shows 1,500 US lobbyists working for fossil-fuel firms while representing universities and green groups

The Guardian, by Oliver Milman, July 5, 2023

More than 1,500 lobbyists in the US are working on behalf of fossil-fuel companies while at the same time representing hundreds of liberal-run cities, universities, technology companies and environmental groups that say they are tackling the climate crisis, the Guardian can reveal.

Lobbyists for oil, gas and coal interests are also employed by a vast sweep of institutions, ranging from the city governments of Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia; tech giants such as Apple and Google; more than 150 universities; some of the country’s leading environmental groups – and even ski resorts seeing their snow melted by global heating.

The breadth of fossil-fuel lobbyists’ work for other clients is captured in a new database of their lobbying interests which was published online on Wednesday.

It shows the reach of state-level fossil-fuel lobbyists into almost every aspect of American life, spanning local governments, large corporations, cultural institutions such as museums and film festivals, and advocacy groups, grouping together clients with starkly contradictory aims.

For instance, State Farm, the insurance company that announced in May it would halt new homeowner policies in California due to the “catastrophic” risk of wildfires worsened by the climate crisis, employs lobbyists that also advocate for fossil fuel interests to lawmakers in 18 states.

Meanwhile, Baltimore, which is suing big oil firms for their role in causing climate-related damages, has shared a lobbyist with ExxonMobil, one of the named defendants in the case. Syracuse University, a pioneer in the fossil fuel divestment movement, has a lobbyist with 14 separate oil and gas clients.

“It’s incredible that this has gone under the radar for so long, as these lobbyists help the fossil fuel industry wield extraordinary power,” said James Browning, a former Common Cause lobbyist who put together the database for a new venture called F Minus. “Many of these cities and counties face severe costs from climate change and yet elected officials are selling their residents out. It’s extraordinary.

“The worst thing about hiring these lobbyists is that it legitimizes the fossil fuel industry,” Browning added. “They can cloak their radical agenda in respectability when their lobbyists also have clients in the arts, or city government, or with conservation groups. It normalizes something that is very dangerous.”

The searchable database, created by compiling the public disclosure records of lobbyists up to 2022 reveals:

  • Some of the most progressive-minded cities in the US employ fossil-fuel lobbyists. Chicago shares a lobbyist with BP. Philadelphia’s lobbyist also works for the Koch Industries network. Los Angeles has a lobbyist contracted to the gas plant firm Tenaska. Even cities that are suing fossil fuel companies for climate damages, such as Baltimore, have fossil fuel-aligned lobbyists.
  • Environmental groups that push for action on climate change also, incongruously, use lobbyists employed by the fossil-fuel industry. The Environmental Defense Fund shares lobbyists with ExxonMobil, Calpine and Duke Energy, all major gas producers. A lobbyist for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund also works on behalf of the mining company BHP.
  • Large tech companies have repeatedly touted their climate credentials but many also use fossil fuel-aligned lobbyists. Amazon employs fossil-fuel lobbyists in 27 states. Apple shares a lobbyist with the Koch network. Microsoft’s lobbyist also lobbies on behalf of Exxon. Google has a lobbyist who has seven different fossil fuel companies as clients.
  • More than 150 universities have ties to lobbyists who also push the interests of fossil-fuel companies. These include colleges that have vowed to divest from fossil fuels under pressure from students concerned about the climate crisis, such as California State University, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University and Syracuse University. Scores of school districts, from Washington state to Florida, have lobbyists who also work for fossil-fuel interests.
  • A constellation of cultural and recreational bodies also use fossil-fuel lobbyists, despite in many cases calling for action on the climate crisis. The New Museum in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Sundance Film Institute in Utah all share lobbyists with fossil-fuel interests, as does the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Florida Aquarium. Even top ski resorts such as Jackson Hole and Vail, which face the prospect of dwindling snow on slopes due to rising temperatures, use fossil-fuel lobbyists.

Cities, companies, universities and green groups that use fossil fuel-linked lobbyists said this work did not conflict with their own climate goals and in some cases was even beneficial. “It is common for lobbyists to work for a variety of clients,” said a spokesperson for the University of Washington.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art said it had retained a lobbyist on the F Minus database “for a period during the pandemic … We are not currently working with the company.”

A spokesperson for the Environmental Defense Fund said that working for big oil is “not, in itself, an automatic disqualification. In some cases it can actually help us find productive alignment in unexpected places.” Microsoft said despite its lobbying arrangements there is “no ambiguity or doubt about Microsoft’s commitment to the aggressive steps needed to address the world’s carbon crisis”.

But the vast scale of the use of fossil-fuel lobbyists by organizations that advocate for climate action underlines the deeply embedded influence of oil, gas and coal interests, according to Timmons Roberts, an environmental sociologist at Brown University.

“The fossil-fuel industry is very good at getting what it wants because they get the lobbyists best at playing the game,” Roberts said. “They have the best staff, huge legal departments, and the ability to funnel dark money to lobbying and influence channels.

“This database really makes it apparent that when you hire these insider lobbyists, you are basically working with double agents. They are guns for hire. The information you share with them is probably going to the opposition.”

‘We Can’t Improve What We Don’t Measure’ – Oil giants like Valero are spending big to avoid sharing crucial climate data

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: This post shares how Big Oil (and gas) lobbyists are using a frighteningly successful two-pronged strategy to stall climate progress here in California: (1) ‘Delay is the new denial,’ and I’d include both the oil industry’s hyper-focus on carbon offsets as panacea and widespread corporate greenwashing as two major delaying tactics, and (2) ‘We can’t improve what we don’t measure.’ With luck and careful implementation, these proposed bills could poke a few holes in the lobby-dam that is blocking essential climate progress. If you can, take a few minutes to write in to your representatives to express support for SB 253 and AB 1305. To find your CA reps, click here; most reps have contact forms on their sites that can help you connect. I’ll keep an eye open for any petitions or upcoming actions in support of those two bills and share them out as I can.]

Oil and Gas Lobbying Threatens California’s Game-Changing Climate Bills

Valero’s Benicia Refinery. Valero is one of several Western States Petroleum Association members fighting new legislation pushing for increased transparency in emissions and offsets. | Image uncredited.

New legislation aims to shine a light on corporate climate pollution and carbon offsets, but Big Oil giants like Valero say it will ‘disfavor the oil industry.’ 

Capital & Main, by Aaron Cantú, June 26, 2023

Two transparency bills in the California Legislature would require corporations to disclose more information about their emissions and their efforts to fight the climate crisis. The oil and gas industry is spending millions to kill them.

The bills would force big companies that do business in California to report all of their emissions and require firms that buy or sell carbon offsets — which are credits that represent a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — to disclose more information in an effort to crack down on bogus climate claims. Both SB 253 and AB 1305 have momentum but could be blocked by moderate Democrats historically aligned with corporate interests.

Since the legislation would make new information available beyond California, the two bills could represent a watershed moment for holding big polluters accountable when they claim climate bonafides, supporters say.

Reporting requirements for corporate emissions are currently fragmented, and SB 253 would be a landmark law pinning down the climate impacts of some of the world’s largest companies. And as more companies market themselves as partners in the climate fight, greater oversight over voluntary carbon trading markets could help verify their claims. Challenges range from a lack of information on who is buying and selling credits to credits handed out for emissions reductions that never actually happened. AB 1305 requires this information to be reported publicly.

The bills are opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, which has already spent $2.38 million on lobbying and advocacy groups this year. While some oil and gas companies in California have expressed their support for rolling back climate change, industry opposition fits into an agenda of delaying action, said Ryan Schleeter, communications director at the Climate Center.

“Delay is the new denial,” said Schleeter. “Climate denial won’t fly in this state, and companies are smart enough to figure that out, so they delay as long as possible and squeeze out as much profit as they can.” [Emph. added.]

“We Can’t Improve What We Don’t Measure”

Lawmakers are evaluating the bills as the climate crisis intensifies around the world. Halfway into 2023, smoke from extreme wildfires blanketed Canada and the U.S. Record-breaking temperatures have struck TexasMexicoIreland, BritainPuerto RicoEurope, Northern Africa and Asia.

In California, WSPA insists that it wants to be part of the “climate conversation,” according to Kevin Slagle, the association’s vice president of strategic communications.

WSPA’s opposition to the transparency bills “is based not so much on not wanting to progress, as it is how we get to those places,” he continued, noting areas where the oil and gas industry is promoting solutions like hydrogen and biofuels. “Is it that we are often pushing too far, too fast?”

But industry warnings about pace and ambition contrast with the U.N.’s insistence that deep, rapid and sustained reductions are needed now. And the bills are in line with recommendations from a group of experts convened by the United Nations, which concluded that companies should annually report their emissions and reliance on carbon offsets as early steps to eventually ending fossil fuel production.

When pressed on the matter, Slagle deflected, offering his view that the oil and gas industry has been unfairly painted as “evil” due to its frequent opposition to climate accountability measures. In public comments and written testimony, WSPA representatives have said little about why they oppose reporting requirements proposed under SB 253. The California Chamber of Commerce, which has spoken for a broader opposition coalition that includes WSPA and other business associations, cites compliance costs.

Companies that participate in California’s cap and trade system already report emissions information to the state, including Scope 3 emissions, which account for the vast majority. These are from burning oil and gas sold by fossil fuel companies. Scope 1 and 2 refer to emissions from a business’s day-to-day activities and electricity usage.

SB 253, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), expands reporting requirements to all companies generating revenues of more than $1 billion a year. It’s more expansive than a rule currently under consideration by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the disclosures have the potential to affect climate action worldwide, said Mary Creasman, CEO of California Environmental Voters.

“This would be pretty monumental,” said Creasman, whose organization is sponsoring the legislation. “There is a movement to say we can’t improve what we don’t measure, full stop.”

Sometimes companies claim to reduce their climate pollution by buying offset credits, which can be used by a company or a country to offset their own emissions.

But offsets have dubious track records across industries and regions. One study into offsets for cooking stoves found that only one in seven represented actual reductions.

Another study found 93% of Chevron’s offsets over the last two years were likely junk. The company, a WSPA member, opposes AB 1305 and spent $1.27 million on lobbying this spring, the most of any oil company. It plans to use offsets while continuing to produce oil and gas.

In a legislative filing, WSPA called the bill’s reporting requirements unclear and redundant, pointing to the SEC’s rulemaking process.

For Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), who authored AB 1305, the argument holds little water. Financial filings by one WSPA member company, the refining giant Valero, warned that disclosure rules could “be used to advance agendas that disfavor the fossil fuel industry.” [Emph. added.]

“If these companies want to get the benefit of showing they are on the right side of history, [AB 1305] will encourage them to show that they are purchasing offsets that will actually make a difference,” Gabriel said.

Moderate Democrats Will Decide Bills’ Fate 

A nearly identical version of SB 253 failed last year by one vote in the Assembly. It’s now headed to committees in that chamber that must approve it before a floor vote.

Democrats dominate the chamber, 62 to 18 Republicans. This supermajority means opponents are focusing on swaying moderate Democrats, who are historically more likely to oppose regulations on businesses than progressive lawmakers.

In addition to all Assembly Republicans, one Democrat who is still in the Assembly — Sharon Quirk-Silva (Buena Park) — voted against climate disclosures last year. Fifteen others who registered “no vote recorded” in 2022 will have an opportunity to vote if the bill reaches the floor this year.

Combined, these legislators have received millions from the California Chamber of Commerce, as well as the oil and gas industry and other corporate interests.

“It’ll be a tough bill to pass in the Assembly,” said Creasman. “We’re hopeful this year, because it’s part of a strong package of other corporate leadership and accountability bills.”

Meanwhile, AB 1305 passed by a large majority in the Assembly and is now moving through the Senate. Gabriel is hopeful about its chances.

“I actually think the bills would fit together nicely in terms of creating a regulatory architecture that’s going to really just provide more accountability and transparency,” Gabriel told Capital & Main.

As scrutiny of the fossil fuel industry has grown, companies have cloaked themselves as climate warriors, said Melissa Aronczyk, an associate professor of media studies at Rutgers University who studies the history of the industry’s public relations strategies.

The public has caught on to squishy climate claims in recent years, but oil majors still often announce actions or aspirations that are impossible to measure.

“These are efforts to sidestep real rules, regulation or other frameworks, to actually hold these companies accountable,” Aronczyk said. “The irony is that it is a very simple need that we have, which is to phase out fossil fuels. It’s straightforward.”