Help Resuscitate SB 246 Oil And Gas Tax

2020 Oil Stain – CA Dirty Crude 2017         2020 Oil and Gas Tax Sample Letter

Also see following article: California Oil Among World’s Dirtiest

By Doug Brooms, ZWAC Chair and Portia Sinnott, Editor
Despite being an oil and gas producing state for over a century, California is purported to be the only one out of 34 oil and gas extraction states without ever having a severance tax. Since the 1990s, there had been at least five successive oil and gas tax Bills that had been introduce in the California Legislature, but were derailed.

In 2019, SB 246 “Oil and Gas Severance Tax” by Senator Bob Weizkowski and Senator Ben Allen, would have imposed a 10 percent oil and gas severance tax levy on oil producers. The revenue derived would have gone into the state’s general fund.

SB 246 was introduced 2/11/19, but never advanced out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. The Bill was amended 1/6/20 and languished again in the committee chaired by Mike McGuire, but again did not advance before the 1/31/20 deadline for 2-year Bills.

The Bill had the support of no less than 18 organizations. The SB 246 Fact Sheet and the then SB 246 Sample Support Letter provided compelling justifications for the tax, but neither had mentioned anything regarding the additional benefits to Climate Change mitigation.

The 2020 Oil and Gas Tax Sample Letter, was crafted mostly by doing cut and paste from a number of online articles on Oil and Climate Change. The articles below were sent to a legislative assistant to Senator Wieckowski. The reply was that unfortunately the bill is effectively dead, and that Senator Wieckowski will not be reintroducing the bill nor actively soliciting other members to pick up the mantle.

The eight members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies could likely be more receptive to the resurrection or revision of a likewise Bill, preferably for 2020, with a better chance of navigating through committees. Please use these documents to prepare a persuasive request to resuscitate SB 246 and them to your Senator and the members of the aforementioned committee.

Rampant Oil Production Undermines State’s Climate Leadership
Center for Biological Diversity, 11/2017
Three-quarters of California’s oil is as climate-damaging as Canadian tar sands crude, according to a Center for Biological Diversity report released today at the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

Oil Stain: How Dirty Crude Undercuts California’s Climate Progress found that eight of the state’s 10 largest-producing oil fields produce very dirty crude with greenhouse gas emissions comparable to tar sands oil. The report detailed how the state’s dirty oil problem is compounded by policies that incentivize crude production.

… Despite the climate and public-health harms of its oil extraction, California is currently the third-largest oil-producing state. Tax breaks, weak regulation and minimal oversight encourage aggressive oil development in the state. California regulators issued more than 3,300 drilling permits for oil and gas wells in 2015 alone. []


Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition 2020

NCRA is a new member of the Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition. This group of very interesting non-profit organizations is dedicated to source reduction solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. The members are:

The 5 Gyres Institute (Los Angeles)
Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education (COARE) (Oakland)
Heal the Bay (Santa Monica)
Northern California Recycling Association (Berkeley)
Plastic Oceans International
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Save Our Shores (Monterey)
Seventh Generation Advisors (Santa Monica)
UPSTREAM (San Francisco)
Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation (Ventura)
Zero Waste USA (Sebastopol)

Previous members include The Story of Stuff Project and Surfrider Foundation

The Coalition contracts with Ecoconsult to provide lobbying services. Justin Malan, the principal and founder has more than 25 of experience in Sacramento as a legislative and agency consultant, as well as independent advocate. Our primary contact is Genevieve Abedon who has been with Ecoconsult since January 2017. Before joining, Genevieve worked on both statewide and local plastic pollution policy and campaigning for Californians Against Waste. In the past she has worked as a Landfill Reduction Technician at various events and sailed across the North Atlantic Ocean studying microplastic pollution with The 5 Gyres Institute.

Ecoconsult’s preferred modus operandi is collaboration. They secure meaningful results for clients by working closely with their existing strategic partners and by building foundations for future coalitions and partnerships. They have a successful record of getting sponsored bills signed into law.  But the work doesn’t stop there – they also use their extensive regulatory and program management experience to ensure that the state effectively and efficiently implements their clients’ legislation.

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Pending Federal EPR Legislation Would Damage or Destroy US Recycling Industry

By Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance and NCRA Member, 8/30/19 – Excerpts and bolding by Dan Knapp of Urban Ore
In August federal bills on plastic pollution and Zero Waste were put forward in Congress by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Representative Alan Lowenthall (D-Calif.) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn). Neither can come close to moving forward given the make-up of the Senate and the veto power of the president. Yet they can establish a blueprint for progressive steps in the future. However, some fine-tuning is needed to ensure that well-intended legislation does not actually make it harder to move forward toward recyclers’ goals.


“The call for a national EPR system is a serious mistake. Recycling is not dying and a radical effort to turn the recycling sector over to the companies that generate waste is uncalled for. It turns out that the demand for U.S. recyclables is strong in the U.S. and overseas. There is a scramble by foreign investors, led by the Chinese, to build paper and plastics recycling plants throughout the U.S. and ship clean materials to home factories. U.S. companies are vying for these materials as well. An estimated 20 new recycled paper mills are under construction in the U.S. at this time in every part of the country. Cities are converting to dual stream and small single stream processing which generate clean materials to meet these markets….”


… “Organized citizen and small business activism has been the key to the start up and growth of recycling in the U.S. and remains so to this day, starting with drop off centers, moving quickly to community based collection systems, then to eventual adoption by cities and counties. The citizens’ recycling movement merged with the hugely successful anti garbage incineration movement in the 1980s and the inspirational and practical Zero Waste Movement in the 1990s. Citizens at the local level have run for office and won, organizing coalitions that city and county councils could not ignore without a threat to their next election….”

… “An EPR system would shut this engine of recycling off completely. Access to decision makers at the local level would be eliminated as cities would have abdicated their decision making power of waste and recycling to corporate nonprofit boards that will replace all decision making, collection, processing, and marketing. Public recycling jobs would be terminated and workers rehired by these Brand Name corporations with little union and employment protections, and lower pay and benefits. Mary Lou Van Deventer, environmental writer, recycling pioneer, and principal of Urban Ore, the iconic materials reuse and processing enterprise, refers to EPR for traditional materials as a “hostile takeover” threatening 50 years of recycling activism.

“PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Nestlé introduced EPR for traditional recycling materials in 2013. The goal, as interpreted by the vast majority of grass roots activists, is to stop any new bottle bills from being enacted and to roll back the existing 10 state bottle bills. Frequently heard comments among pro EPR…advocates add insult to injury: Cities do not know how to recycle and they are broke so they can’t do anything, corporations have the money and know how to recycle better. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) praised the legislation’s EPR component, “EPR is the only transformational solution to the current crisis.”

“These comments are counter-intuitive given the history of U.S. recycling wherein cities have learned from the early successes of grassroots recycling and adopted them for municipal roll out. Grassroots pressure at the local level continues to lead the country toward new rules for waste and recycling management.

“Efforts to impose EPR controlled by Big Soda in R.I., Conn., Minn., and Calif. failed in the last few years despite a stealth strategy, including hiring of former state legislatures to lobby their former colleagues, state environmental organization staff, and grassroots environmental organizations.” []

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Account of The Third Annual North Bay Zero Waste Symposium

By Arthur R. Boone, Center for Recycling Research (CRR)
The July NCRA News told of the Zero Waste Symposium in Rohnert Park in late July and, after noting the 27 different speakers being scheduled, I resolved to attend. About 90 people were present with a generous dollop of old NCRAites; seen were Ruth Abbe, Will Bakx, myself, Jordan Figueredo, Gary Liss, “Green Mary” Munat, Judith Silver and Todd Sutton. I heard five highlights in the program:

1.     Mimi Enright of the Sonoma County Community Food Systems program, talked about how the county stayed on top of a rapidly shifting environment (100,000 meals needed the day after Camp Fire in 2017) at the same time respecting the integrity of many volunteer and non-profit efforts.
2.     Kourtnii Brown of Oakland’s Common Compost thinks that smaller organics diversion programs may bear more fruit than the 100+ big facilities expected under SB 1383 to make industrial scale compost at higher costs, less social gain, and an unclear contribution to social equity. She noted there is “the trend to make policies that favor only big solutions.“ very wise to my mind.
3.     Marv Zauderer started and runs the ExtraFood program in Marin County. Relying heavily on individual initiative and simplicity of organization, Extra Food tries to connect persons with food and people in need; not a lot of details but three million pounds moved in five years is 800 pounds per day of groceries; 2/3rds of his volunteers are seniors.
4.     Eric Jackson as leader of the Trashion Fashion Show of the Sonoma Community Center recounted its 9 year history with lots of kooky side bars: in addition to youth campy clothes, there are clothes for found Barbie dolls, costumes for pets with found stuff, etc. A real kick; the artiest of the day.

5. Green Mary (a/k/a Mary Munat) now has 45 employees and works a lot of big events in SF. Trying to talk the SF Marathon leaders into patches for each new year rather than yet another T-shirt. SF’s rule is that any event that requires a police permit also must have a recycling plan and program. Volunteers at many event disposal points may be the best pub ed available to not-at-home youngsters.

A nice program; well-paced. Good food and drink. A lot more individual initiative stories than we tend to hear at RU where it’s more about official and routinized efforts. Refreshing.

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