| Press Release

Q1 lobbying: Big Oil spends over $7.2 million fighting bills to make polluters pay

Chevron, WSPA biggest spenders, with Chevron putting $3 million into pro-polluter front groups. Big Oil on pace for annual expenditure record.

Chevron is California's top corporate polluter and top spender on lobbying and other tactics to influence to state leaders. Photo by Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons.
Chevron is California's top corporate polluter and top spender on lobbying and other tactics to influence to state leaders. Photo by Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons.

SACRAMENTO Lobbying disclosures for quarter one show that the oil industry spent over $7.2 million to kill California legislation that would make corporate polluters pay their fair share. The top five oil industry spenders alone spent over $6.1 million to influence California state leaders, led by Chevron at over $3 million. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a front group funded by Chevron and other oil corporations, was the second-highest spender. 

The top 10 spenders can be seen below:

Western States Petroleum Association$2,469,067.56
Aera Energy$249,342.71
Phillips 66$182,391.59
Synergy Oil & Gas$148,012.02
Marathon Petroleum$140,726.26
BP America$121,770.88
California Resources Corp.$100,000

The over $7 million spent on lobbying and influence puts Big Oil on pace to surpass its $26.2 million record set in 2017 and its second-highest year — last year — at $25.4 million. A review of the disclosures further details that Chevron financed the front group Californians for Energy Independence to the tune of over $1.2 million during quarter one, while Aera Energy gave the group over $150,000. In other words, Chevron alone funded 16 percent of all Big Oil influence activities in California for the first quarter. 

“With millions to spare year after year for lobbying and misinformation campaigns, it’s clearer than ever that Big Oil doesn’t need taxpayer-funded subsidies,” said Woody Hastings, Phase Out Polluting Fuels Manager for advocacy nonprofit The Climate Center. “Rather than cut funding for climate programs that save lives, we urge Governor Newsom to eliminate all tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel corporations in his revised state budget to be released on May 14. Doing so will free up hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in clean air, sustainable transportation, climate-smart agriculture, and more.”

Top spenders — Chevron, Western States Petroleum Association, and Aera — aligned on attacking bills AB 1866, AB 2716, and AB 3233, which would hold the oil industry accountable for cleaning up toxic, non-producing, and marginally-producing wells, as well as empower localities to prohibit oil and gas production within their jurisdictions. Chevron, WSPA, and all of the major refiners except for PBF Energy also lobbied against SB 1497, a bill that requires fossil fuel polluters to pay their fair share for the costs of climate damages created by selling and burning their products.

WSPA, Chevron, Phillips 66, Valero, Berry Corporation, Shell, and NuStar Energy opposed legislation AB 1193, which would enact a statewide ban on the use of leaded gasoline in aviation. Chevron, WSPA, Marathon Petroleum, and BP also attempted to obstruct regulatory implementation of SBX 1-2, a law that aims to prevent price-gouging at the pump for California drivers and has created an agency watchdog tasked with considering a profit margin penalty. 

Notably, three of the top ten spenders — Chevron, BP, and Exxon — are named in Governor Newsom’s landmark lawsuit against Big Oil for decades of climate deception and damages to public health. Oil corporations financing climate denial have delayed the climate action Californians deserve, costing the state billions of dollars and claiming lives. 

The package of polluter accountability bills that the oil industry has lobbied against aims to offer Californians financial relief against climate harms and hold Big Oil financially liable for its actions. 

Additional details on 2023 oil industry lobbying spending, campaign contributions, and recipients of the campaign dollars are all available upon request. Please email blake@sunstonestrategies.org for more information. 



Blake Marquez, Sunstone Strategies: blake@sunstonestrategies.org, (310) 894-6690

Ryan Schleeter, The Climate Center: ryan@theclimatecenter.org, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for a climate-safe future. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative. www.theclimatecenter.org