Analysis Reveals the Majority of California State Legislators Accept Oil Money
CONTACT: Suzanne Spencer, 510-508-0383, firstname.lastname@example.org
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, California Environmental Voters (EnviroVoters) assigned its first D grade (67%) to the state for its inaction on the climate crisis in 2021. The grade is included in the organization’s annual California Environmental Scorecard, a comprehensive analysis of where the state’s political leaders stand on the environment and the climate crisis.
This grade reflects the reality that California is not on track to meet its current goals to address the climate crisis and has not passed significant climate legislation in over three years. In particular, the State Senate has held back California’s climate leadership, letting bill after bill die.
“California has failed to take meaningful climate action at the rate and scale that is needed for the crisis,” said Mary Creasman, CEO, EnviroVoters. “We’re plagued by ‘climate delayers’ in Sacramento – members of the state legislature that talk about climate change but don’t back up those words with action. That’s just as dangerous as denying the existence of climate change. We don’t have time for climate rhetoric without climate results.”
Many Californians may be surprised to learn that these “climate delayers” are Democrats; 18 Democratic legislators received failing grades in the 2021 Scorecard.
“These elected officials are incredibly out of sync with their constituents,” said Melissa Romero, Senior Legislative Affairs Manager, EnviroVoters. “Poll after poll has shown that Californians want their elected officials to address the climate crisis.”
California’s inaction on the climate crisis is the direct result of millions of dollars spent by corporate polluters to influence the legislature. An analysis included in the Scorecard reveals that 63% of California state legislators accepted direct campaign contributions from oil companies and major oil industry Political Action Committees (PACs) in 2021. This includes 52% of Democrats and 96% of Republicans.
“Follow the money,” said Mary Creasman, CEO, EnviroVoters. “Corporate polluters’ political influence has already done irreparable damage to our public health and economy, and it could cost us our future. We hope this is a wake-up call to our elected officials: we expect you to put our collective good above corporate interests.”
Notably, Democrats have held a supermajority, exceeding the two-thirds threshold, in both houses of the Legislature since 2018, but during this time have failed to significantly address the climate crisis. The last major piece of climate legislation was SB 100, which became law over three years ago. As a result, California is falling behind in lowering emissions and building out clean energy sources. From 2018 to 2019, emissions dropped only 1.6%. Based on the most recent data, the state needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at roughly two to three times its current rate.
Leaders of EnviroVoters note that there are some bright spots that indicate 2022 may be off to a better start. In particular, they call attention to the State Senate’s passage of SB 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act. The bill would require big corporations conducting business in California with over $1 billion in revenue to disclose their total greenhouse gas emissions in a way that is publicly available and understandable.
They also highlight the opportunity at hand with this year’s proposed budget. The Governor’s proposed budget includes a large investment in addressing climate change, but more funding is needed given the scale and impact of the crisis. EnviroVoters is calling for 5% of the budget or $75 billion over 5 years to be dedicated to spurring our transition to clean energy, addressing our grid and energy storage, and the transportation sector, decarbonizing our buildings, helping to transition our workforce, preventing wildfire, and helping the state to be resilient in the face of drought.
“Governor Newsom proposed the largest climate investment in state history but it’s still not enough to win the fight against climate change,” said Melissa Romero, Senior Legislative Manager, EnviroVoters. “We need the Governor and legislature to step up and go big on climate action with the state budget. This can be a significant downpayment on addressing the climate crisis and improving the lives of Californians.”
Looking ahead, EnviroVoters is calling for 2022 to finally be a year of climate action instead of climate delay in the state. The organization recently released a policy roadmap that shows that we must drastically reduce our emissions, clean up toxic air quality, transition our buildings and cars to clean energy, and phase out our dependence on fossil fuels.
“The time is now to address the climate crisis,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), a member of the 2021 Climate Action Caucus and the Clean Air Ambassador. “I am committed to working on bold legislation that centers on the needs of communities most impacted by environmental and climate injustices. We can and must ensure that policies and state resources are strongly aligned with climate and environmental goals that will protect our planet and build healthier communities for Californians today and for generations to come.”
The 2021 California Environmental Scorecard includes the following highlights:
- California’s Overall Score: 67%
- Governor Newsom’s Score: 82%
- 18 Legislators received a 100% Environmental Score in 2021: Assemblymembers Steve Bennett, Marc Berman, Wendy Carrillo, David Chiu (former Assemblymember and current San Francisco City Attorney), Laura Friedman, Ash Kalra, Kevin Mullin, Eloise Gómez Reyes, Robert Rivas, Phil Ting, and Senators Ben Allen, Josh Becker, Lena Gonzalez, Sydney Kamlager, Connie Leyva, Monique Limón, Henry Stern, and Scott Wiener.
- Members of the 2021 Climate Action Caucus (environmental champions fighting for bold policy change to address the climate crisis in Sacramento): Assemblymember Steve Bennett, former Assemblymember David Chiu, Senator Lena Gonzalez, and Senator Scott Wiener.
- Members of the 2021 Polluter Caucus (legislators who are responsible for stalling climate progress in 2021): Senator Steve Glazer, Senator Robert Hertzberg, Senator Susan Rubio, and Assemblymember Rudy Salas.
- Percent of Legislators who Accepted Oil Money: 63%
- Number of Democrats in the State Legislature Who Received Failing Grades: 18
- Overall Average Democrat Score: 80%
- Overall Average Republican Score: 15%
To view the full California Environmental Scorecard, visit here.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL VOTERS
California Environmental Voters (formerly the California League of Conservation Voters) believes the climate crisis is here and this moment requires transformative change. California has the policy solutions to stop climate change but lacks the political will to do it at the rate and scale that’s necessary. EnviroVoters exists to build the political power to solve the climate crisis, advance justice, and create a roadmap for global action. We organize voters, elect and train candidates, and hold lawmakers accountable for bold policy change. We won’t stop until we have resilient, healthy, thriving communities, and a democracy and economy that is just and sustainable for all. Join us at www.envirovoters.org and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. See more press releases.