PROMO Climate - Protest Signs Change - iStock - DisobeyArt

Climate groups seek to remove tax breaks for oil and gas companies

© iStock - DisobeyArt
Suzanne Potter

Click play to listen to this article.

Audio file

(California News Service) As state budget negotiations continue, groups fighting climate change are asking California lawmakers to cut subsidies for oil and gas companies rather than slash programs designed to slow global warming.

PROMO Map - California State Map - iStock - dk_photos

© iStock - dk_photos

Governor Gavin Newsom's current proposal would cut oil and gas tax breaks by $22 million this year and $17 million the following year.

Barry Vesser, COO for The Climate Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, would like to see all subsidies eliminated.

"Oil and gas companies are one of the drivers of climate change, so we should not be making their profit margins bigger by providing public subsidies, and making it harder for renewables to compete against them," Vesser argued.

Governor Newsom has also proposed to cut funding for climate-friendly programs helping lower-income families buy an electric vehicle or switch from gas to electric appliances.

Kevin Slagle, vice president of strategic communications for the Western States Petroleum Association, said in a statement, "California's already tough business climate is pushing companies to the brink. Removing incentives will drive California straight into the arms of more expensive foreign oil, ramping up costs for everyday Californians who can least afford it."

Vesser countered the threat of higher gas prices is a red herring.

"There's a lot that goes into calculating how much the cost of gas is, and this is not even pennies on the dollar," Vesser contended.

The state Senate's early action proposal estimated the budget deficit will be between $38 billion and $53 billion. The governor is expected to release new details on his budget priorities in mid-May. The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by June 15.