Big Oil’s indifference to democracy is on full display in political spending

When the California Secretary of State announced that the referendum on Senate Bill 1137, which establishes a buffer zone of 3,200 feet between oil drilling and California neighborhoods, has enough signatures to halt implementation until after the 2024 general election, Big Oil interests went on a political spending spree.

“For the millions of Californians living and working near dangerous oil and gas drilling, this news is devastating and literally life-threatening,” said Amy Moas, Ph.D., Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner. “Instead of celebrating the promise of a future where everyone can lead safe, healthy lives, communities will be forced to continue breathing toxic air on the playground, at school, and even during hospital visits.”

“Big Oil’s callous indifference to our democracy and our health, all in the name of growing their own profits, is on full display,” said Moas. “The fossil fuel interests backing this referendum are bullying Californians, throwing their money around to prevent public health protections that are not only common sense, but incredibly popular with Californians.”

“After over a decade of organizing and struggle, the passage of SB 1137 was an incredible moment for the entire environmental justice movement, especially for the frontline communities living near drilling – but the oil industry just couldn’t stand losing,” said Moas. “We urge Governor Newsom not to submit to these Big Oil bullies and instead to defend these crucial protections for the more than 2.7 million Californians waiting to breathe easier.”

President Joe Biden has failed to stop the influence of free-spending oil companies and other special interest groups, which operate in a system of legalized bribery as a result of successive court decisions that eroded laws that once protected citizens from criminal influence peddling.

Biden’s administration approved plans to build the nation’s largest oil export terminal off the Gulf Coast of Texas in November 2022— a move that came after the project’s developer expanded its federal lobbying operation, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of disclosures.

That is just one example of the Democratic president betraying his promise to address deadly climate change by reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels in the face of big money buying political power on behalf of global polluters.

The Biden administration’s move to ease sanctions will allow Chevron, the California-based multinational oil and gas company, to resume pumping oil from Venezuela for the first time since former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions against the Venezuelan state-run oil company Petróleous de Venezuela (PDVSA) in 2019.

Biden’s willingness to ease pressure on Maduro comes amid a global energy crisis due to restrictions on Russian oil following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, but Chevron has spent $45 million on federal campaign contributions since 1990 plus another $201 million on lobbying since 1998.

As long as politicians remain addicted to private money to finance their campaign operations, these fairly predictable results will repeat themselves.

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