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The Make Polluters Pay movement gains momentum

Assemblymember Isaac Bryan speaking at the Make Polluters Pay rally in Sacramento, May 16, 2024. Photo by Woody Hastings / The Climate Center.

Recent legislative progress in the “Make Polluters Pay” movement shows how powerful we can be when we organize strategically. In mid-May, along with a strong coalition of partners, we lobbied in Sacramento in support of several key bills to Make Polluters Pay for the damage they cause to California communities and our climate. 

The bills we lobbied in support of were: 

  • AB 1866 (Hart) to require the cleanup of idle wells;
  • AB 2716 (Bryan) to impose fees on operators of low-production wells that continue to leak pollution; 
  • AB 3155 (Friedman) to hold oil and gas companies financially liable for public health impacts like cancer, respiratory illnesses, and birth defects caused by oil and gas exposure;
  • AB 3233 (Addis) to protect local governments’ right to regulate, limit, and phase out oil and gas operations in their jurisdictions; and,
  • ? SB 1497 (Menjivar), which would create a superfund-style program to collect money from major fossil fuel companies to pay for the devastating environmental damage they cause.

As of this writing, all of the above bills are still active except for AB 3155, which was not brought up for a vote on the Assembly floor by the May 24 deadline (effectively killed). SB 1497 is currently on pause, but can be revived if the bill author (and our collective efforts) can drum up enough votes for it to advance. 

The fossil fuel industry continues to lobby the state legislature to the tune of $7+ million in just the first quarter of 2024. That included millions spent by Chevron and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) to oppose AB 3155 and SB 1497.  

Reducing the flow of money to Big Oil is key to protecting Californians and our climate. That’s why The Climate Center’s top policy priorities include ending state subsidies to fossil fuel interests and enacting SB 252 (Gonzalez), the California Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, which will divest billions of dollars in state pension funds from the fossil fuel industry. 

Help Make Polluters Pay! Take a moment now to urge your legislators to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

This blog first appeared in The Climate Center’s bi-weekly newsletter. To keep up with the latest climate news and ways to take action for a climate-safe future, subscribe today!