Today, 78 environmental justice, climate, consumer, and public health groups sent the following letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and members of his staff.

A handful of these groups also placed an ad in the Sacramento Bee, publicizing the letter and a new Consumer Watchdog report it cites. The full ad is available here and the full report is available here.

Letter to Gov. Newsom- Re: Polluter Greed

June 2, 2022

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

CC: CA Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, Senior Climate Advisor Lauren Sanchez, CalGEM Administrator Uduak-Joe Ntuk

Dear Governor Newsom,

As oil companies rake in billions in windfall profits and Californians face the highest gas prices in the nation, constant toxic pollution in our communities, and destructive wildfires statewide, the below signed organizations and our hundreds of thousands of California supporters urge you to fight polluter greed and protect Californians – by rejecting calls for more permits to drill and doubling down on bold plans to move our state off of fossil fuels and end neighborhood drilling.

Seeking to capitalize off war, fossil fuel companies are raising gas prices and raking in record profits to enrich their executives and investors. U.S. oil and gas producers could collect a windfall of as much as $126 billion in 2022. California-based Chevron recently announced that its profits have already quadrupled to $6.3 billion in just the first quarter of this year. And California oil refiners are making unprecedented profits, with some refiners doubling their quarterly profits per gallon of gas compared with their profits in other regions of the United States. One refiner, PBF Energy, made a profit of 78 cents from every gallon in the first quarter of 2022.

But fossil fuel companies aren’t just enjoying record profits. In an attempt to lock us into future fossil fuel investments, Big Oil executives are spending millions attempting to pressure California lawmakers to resist commonsense regulations and ramp up in-state production. Fossil fuel companies have spent $6 million lobbying for polluter favors in California already this year, with Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Chevron dumping more than $2 million into lobbying efforts in just the last quarter.

These lobbying efforts are part of a longer legacy of spending to secure favors and kill climate progress. Indeed, lobbying organizations representing oil and gas companies spent almost $77.5 million, with WSPA alone dumping in almost $25.5 million, to lobby the California State Legislature and other state officials over the past four full years. During this same time, oil and gas interests spent four times as much as environmental advocacy groups and almost six times as much as clean energy interests on lobbying efforts in California. One recent step backwards, bought by Big Oil and investor-owned utilities, is the solar tax (which includes non-bypassable charges on self-consumption) and solar cliff that would make rooftop solar less affordable, despite its critical role in California achieving a clean energy future. Building resilient, sustainable communities and maximizing democratized, local, renewable energy production will never have millions of lobbying dollars behind it, but it is exactly what our state desperately needs. 

Despite what they want you to believe, oil companies are clamoring for more drilling permits to entice investors, maximize profits, and keep us locked into a fossil-fueled future – not to lower the cost of gas. New fossil fuel infrastructure would take years to come on line and won’t help the current crisis. Approving new drilling permits will not magically lower the cost of fuel for average Californians. It will only help Big Oil maintain a permanent grip on our wallets, our communities, and the planet.

Californians pay the highest gas prices in the country, a whopping $1.30 more per gallon than the national average. Fossil fuel CEOs would have you believe this is due to environmental taxes, the war in Ukraine, or reduced production, but recent profit reports show that Californians are getting gouged as California oil refiners rake in profits greater than anywhere else in the US

Californians – disproportionately low-income, Black, Indigenous, Asian American, and Latinx communities – are also paying with their health. 2.7 million Californians live within 3,200 feet of drilling, so dangerously close that they are forced to breathe toxic pollution that causes asthma, other respiratory diseases, and high-risk pregnancies, and increases risk of cancer and complications from COVID-19. Fourteen idle wells in Bakersfield, just hundreds of feet from a neighborhood, were recently found spewing, in some instances, explosive quantities of methane into the air, putting hundreds of households, a church daycare, a sports complex, and a school at risk. This is just one example that makes it clear that oil and gas extraction has no place in our communities. Meanwhile, 21% of new drilling permits issued by your administration in 2021 are located within less than a mile of neighborhoods. This is environmental injustice and discrimination in action.

All of us are also literally paying with our future. Fossil fuel pollution could cost Californians a total of $10 trillion in more destructive wildfires, worsening drought, air pollution, and premature deaths by 2045, according to a new report from Consumer Watchdog. Continuing to drill new wells, including in neighborhoods, could cause more than 425 million metric tons of carbon pollution – further fueling record-breaking wildfires, heatwaves, and drought conditions, and threatening the livability of our state. 

We urge you to reject this thinly veiled polluter greed and instead prioritize the wellbeing of everyday Californians, by: 

  • Strengthening the draft setbacks rule to protect Californians from neighborhood drilling, including a 3,200 foot setback for both new and existing wells, including no new permits within that setback distance starting now. Existing wells, including idle ones (Bakersfield is the latest example), have been known to leak methane and other toxic emissions.
  • Doubling down on your vision for a fossil-free future by resisting industry calls for new drilling permits. Do so while accelerating the timeline for a full fossil fuel phaseout and transition to clean energy, including clean cars. 
  • Delivering on the promise of a fully funded just transition that creates tens of thousands of good union jobs in the new emerging green economy, while providing certainty and support for the workers and communities that have powered our economy for the last hundred years.
  • Ensuring communities most harmed by environmental racism and the fossil fuel industry are first in line to benefit from the transition to clean energy by ensuring the state’s policies prioritize health equity. 
  • Rejecting fossil fuel industry tactics to extend the life of their destructive fossil fuels via carbon capture and storage, ‘blue’ hydrogen made from fossil fuels, and carbon offsets that allow the fossil-fuel era to continue and impede the rapid transition to a clean and renewable energy future.


California Nurses for Environmental Health and Justice

Consumer Watchdog

Greenpeace USA

Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods (VISIÓN)

350 Bay Area Action

350 Butte County

350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley

350 Sacramento

350 South Bay Los Angeles

350 Southland Legislative Alliance

350 Ventura County Climate Hub

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Animals Are Sentient Beings Inc

Battle Creek Alliance & Defiance Canyon Raptor Rescue


California Environmental Justice Alliance

Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

Central California Environmental Justice Network


Citizens’ Climate Lobby Santa Cruz Chapter

Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas

Climate Hawks Vote

Communities for a Better Environment

Defend Ballona Wetlands

Earth Guardians Bay Area Crew

ECHO Action NH

Ecology Center

Elders Climate Action, NorCal and SoCal Chapters

Environmental & Public Health Consulting

Equity Transit

Esperanza Community Partnership

Food & Water Watch

Fossil Free California

FreshWater Accountability Project

Holman United Methodist Church

Human Rights Working Group of First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco

Indivisible San Jose

Indivisible Ventura

International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute

Let’s Go Farm

Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN)

Long Beach Gray Panthers

Manhattan Beach Huddle

Missionary Oblates JPIC Office

Mothers Out Front

Mothers Out Front Silicon Valley


Nurses for Social Responsibility


Ocean Conservation Research

Oil and Gas Action Network

Pacific Environment


Pelican Media

People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)

Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles

Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento

Playa del Rey Gas Watch

Protect Playa Now

Redeemer Community Partnership

Sacramento Climate Coalition

San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

Santa Cruz Climate Action Network

Sierra Club California

Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Spottswoode Winery, Inc.


Sunflower Alliance

Sustainable Mill Valley

The Climate Center

United Native Americans

Unitarian Universalists of San Francisco Forum Committee

Valley Justice LA