Chevron Cares More About Image Than California Schools

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Today, Chevron’s ever present PR team is pushing out an announcement about how much Chevron loves Southern California schools. According to the press release and tweets, the oil giant is donating $1 million to South Bay schools.

The truth is, Chevron cares more about their image than California students.

Our struggling schools here in California need every penny they can get, but until the oil giant (and California’s largest corporation) stops fighting a fair extraction tax that would bring $2 BILLION into our ailing education system, we’ll save our applause.

California is the 3rd largest oil producing state in the nation, and yet the ONLY oil producing state in the United States without an extraction tax. Texas has an extraction tax, Louisiana has a 12.5% tax, even Sarah Palin increased Alaska’s oil severance tax (upwards of 25%) to pay for education programs. It’s time that California joins the rest of the US, imposes a tax on oil companies for removing our state’s resources, and uses the funds for real education finance reform.

In California we have a $20 billion dollar deficit. Chevron’s $1 million donation to South Bay schools doesn’t begin to address the crisis facing our schools, but forcing our oil companies to pay a fair and reasonable tax does.

Lawmakers in Sacramento and voters across the state are ready for these oil companies to step up their responsibility to the residents of California. Assemblymember Alberto Torrico, supported by the California Faculty Association and the University of California Students Association, introduced a solution-based bill – AB 656 – that would generate $2 billion a year for higher education by instilling a 12% tax on the extraction of oil and gas in California.

Chevron is our state’s largest oil corporation, our state’s largest employer, and our state’s largest (and richest) barrier to saving our education system.

Big Oil will spare no amount of money to defeat AB 656. In 2006, a similar battle unfolded over Prop 87, which would have put just a 6% tax on the oil industry which could have raised $485 million for the state. Big Oil – led by Chevron – poured truly epic amounts of money into defeating the proposition. The oil industry spent more than $45 million in what became a historic spending spree on a single campaign. Chevron has a long history of bullying elections with their deep pockets, and depriving our state of much needed resources.

In the first months of 2010, Chevron has already earned the honor of being the oil industry’s largest political contributor. Sacramento should brace itself and California voters should get ready for the misinformation campaign of a lifetime around AB 656. With the backing of the California Chamber of Commerce, California Independent Petroleum Association, and Western States Petroleum Association, Big Oil in California will no doubt be championing to defeat a bill that could produce over $2 billion in funds for our struggling education system.

Chevron likes to present itself as a different kind of oil company – one that cares about the communities it operates in. If Chevron truly wants California to believe they care, they must drop the PR ploys, lobbyists and industry front groups, and support a bill that could help save California’s public education institutions.