Groups to oil industry: “Stop Fooling California”

Oil industry holds private meetings to quash state clean air standards

Burbank, CA – California’s leading public health, consumer, social justice and environmental advocates are blasting the oil industry for its latest attempt to overturn the state’s landmark clean air standards. Oil company executives and lobbyists are meeting today in Burbank in a private, closed-door meeting, hosted by “Fueling California.” Top on their agenda is how to dismantle key elements of California’s clean air laws.

“As Governor Brown delivers his ‘State of the State’ today, we hope that his agenda for the year ahead includes a vigorous defense of California’s progress in moving away from dependence on petroleum,” said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action. “Californians spent more than $60 billion on gasoline and diesel in 2011 alone. We hope to hear that he’ll fight to deliver real consumer choice and pocketbook benefits as well as foster California’s growth as the leader of America’s clean energy economy, which is creating jobs and decreasing pollution. The Governor and the Legislature must stand firm in the face of the petroleum industry’s deep-pocketed lobbyists and slick marketing campaigns.”

“Oil is the most profitable industry in the world, period,” said Martha Arguello, executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles. “For decades, Big Oil has been filling its pockets with massive profits while protecting its monopoly on dirty energy that harms Californians health, especially low-income communities of color.”

Fed up with secret strategy meetings like today’s in Burbank, as well as outright attacks on California’s pioneering clean air standards, these groups are joining together to endorse the launch of “StopFoolingCA,” a new online and social media public education and awareness campaign. StopFoolingCA (www.stopfoolingca.org) sets the record straight showing how oil companies continue to fight California’s wildly popular and successful clean air standards while pocketing huge profits.

“Californians are facing a familiar fight. Oil companies and their friends are fear mongering like never before. Consumers are being inundated with threats of job losses, economic peril, and price increases because Big Oil and old manufacturing claim they ‘can’t afford’ air quality standards that have been the law-of-the-land for years,” Miya Yoshitani, associate director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network said.

What the oil giants that support rolling back California’s clean air standards don’t want Californians to know is that in a single minute they rake in more than 96 percent of Americans make in a year. Huge profits allow oil and gas companies to spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers with the hope that they can overturn clean air policies like AB 32 and the state’s clean fuels standard.

“Californians of color continue to bear an unfair share of the burdens of our petroleum-fueled economy,” said Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. “Last summer, a massive explosion at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery released a toxic cloud that caused widespread breathing problems and sent 15,000 residents from surrounding communities to emergency rooms. Accidents like this are preventable, but time and again oil companies demonstrate they are unwilling to make the investments necessary to stop them. In short, in our petroleum-fueled economy, profits come first and community health comes last.”

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Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website (www.consumer-action.org) and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,500 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.

Media Contacts:

  • Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action – 415.777.9648
  • Martha Arguello, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles – 310.261.0073
  • Bill Gallegos, Communities for a Better Environment – 323.573.5310
  • Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network – 510.147.1775
  • Ruben Aronin, The Better World Group – 310.612.5663
 

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