COP23 press conference will expose Jerry Brown’s dirty oil ties

  • Published on November 9th, 2017

The media has been publishing glowing reports about California Governor Jerry Brown’s climate tour of Europe for COP23  this week – even as the Brown administration continues to promote fracking, a Big Oil-written cap-and-trade program, the pollution of San Joaquin Valley aquifers with oil wastewater and the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels.

California Governor Jerry Brown caricature by DonkeyHotey CCBy Dan Bacher

In his remarks before the Baden-Wurttemberg State Parliament and nearly three hours of wide-ranging debate and dialogue with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Governor Brown today “forged closer ties” with European leaders committed to climate action and blasted the “denialists” who continue to reject the scientific consensus on global warming, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

UPDATE: Read Dan Bacher’s full report, based on the material revealed in the press conference: Behind Jerry Brown’s green facade lurks dirty oil and environmental injustice

“We have to wake up – wake up Europe, wake up America, wake up the whole world to realize we have a common destiny and we are all human beings on this one planet,” said Governor Brown in his address to the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg, co-founder of the Under2 Coalition. “This is daunting but it’s also an opportunity to pull people together.”

Governor Brown may be pulling “people together,” but not in the way that he intended, as increasing numbers of Californians mobilize against the Governor’s steadfast support of fracking and drilling dirty oil.  On Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity will present a new report on California’s “dirty oil production” at the United Nations climate conference that shows the “dark side” of California environmental policies that varies greatly with Brown administration press releases and the mostly fawning media coverage of Brown in Europe.

“The Center’s analysis found that the majority of oil produced in California is as climate-damaging as Canadian tar sands crude,” according to a Center media advisory.  “The report further details how California’s policies incentivize oil and gas development, stifling the state’s climate progress.”

The press briefing comes two days before Brown begins a series of speeches at the COP23 conference.

“Jerry Brown is hailed as America’s de facto climate leader under Trump, but his state’s dirty oil is actually a major contributor to global warming,” said Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “Brown aggressively promotes fracking and drilling, even as California pumps out some of the world’s most climate-damaging crude. The governor won’t be a real climate hero until he changes course to keep this dangerously dirty oil in the ground.”

The press conference will take place at Thursday, Nov. 9, 9:30-10:00 a.m. CET, Press Conference Room 2 in the BULA Zone at the United Nations COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany. Live Streaming also available at

Speakers will include Center for Biological Diversity staff scientist John Fleming and the Center’s associate conservation director and staff attorney Jean Su.

For more information, contact:  Jean Su, +1 (415) 770-3187,

Meanwhile, Big Oil continues to dump millions of dollars into lobbying and campaign contributions every year. In the 2015-2016 Legislative Session alone, the oil industry spent over $36.1 million lobbying in California. This massive california oil fieldsspending spree has continued into 2017.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, spent $2,290,408.89 in the third quarter of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session to promote Big Oil’s agenda in California, topping all over organizations in lobbying expenses.

Chevron dished out the second largest amount of any organization, with $1.1 million spent last quarter.

Big Oil also spent over $10.8 million in lobbying in the second quarter of 2017 to pass AB 398, Governor Brown’s cap-and-trade bill, through the legislature, as well as to lobby against SB 188, legislation to stop new offshore oil drilling off the California.

The San Ramon-based Chevron and subsidiaries topped all other lobbyists in the state in the second quarter with $6,153,952 spent, followed by WSPA with $2,528,751 and the San Antonio-based Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co. LLC with $2,193.489.

“Contamination of our communities needs to stop now,” said Candelaria Vargas of Daily Kos in an action alert. “The oil industry has poured millions of dollars into California politics and has seen results. A statewide scientific study was conducted on the toxicity of fracking near water sources and why this practice should be stopped, but has not had adequate response from our lawmakers. More needs to be done to protect our environment and our public health.”

Please sign this petition to get oil money out of California Politics.  

Background: Big Oil spent $36.1 million lobbying in 2015-16 session

The California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million on lobbying over the two-year period. Based on the oil industry lobbying over the past two quarters, it looks like the industry may set a new spending record this session.

Big Oil spending last session amounted to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. To read the complete report, go to: 

WSPA was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders last session. In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials.

Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016 alone, sixth among all lobbyists in the session.

The only bill opposed by the oil industry that made it out of the legislature to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown was Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The reason for the bill’s passage was because billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation Climate Action spent  $7.3 million lobbying for the bill in the seventh quarter of the session.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent over $146 million in lobbying in California when you include the figures for the first two quarters of 2017.

WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) creating Astroturf groups: 4) working in collaboration with media; and (5) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels.

(Image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr.)

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.