How we can stop profiteering and put money back in the pockets of Americans

While working Americans are struggling to afford gas at the pump, Big Oil is raking in the profits. Oil and gas companies currently have a stranglehold on our wallets and our futures, but we can still put a stop to Big Oil’s profiteering, put money back in the pockets of Americans and invest in a renewable energy moonshot.

California has the highest gas prices in the nation, creating massive hardships for residents. Fossil fuel companies are taking advantage of Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine to raise gas prices and enrich their executives and investors. Last year, California’s own Chevron reported nearly $16 billion in profits. This year, their U.S. operations could pocket as much as $7.3 billion in additional profits thanks to high wartime prices — on Friday, Chevron announced during its quarterly earnings call that its profits quadrupled in just the first quarter of the year, to $6.3 billion. Even under conservative estimates, U.S. oil and gas producers are expected to collect a windfall “wartime profit” of as much as $126 billion in 2022.

While these companies are profiting off the backs of consumers, they are simultaneously exploiting the crisis of their own creation to demand approvals for more drilling and misleading Americans into thinking that this is the solution to sky-high gasoline prices.

In fact, oil companies are already sitting on thousands of unused permits. Of the 2,686 new drilling permits issued in California over the last two years, 63% remain untouched. If more leases and drilling were an effective shield against high energy costs, we wouldn’t be in this position today. The truth is, these companies want permits to entice investors and maximize profits for their CEOs and shareholders, not to reduce prices at the pump.

The fossil fuel industry’s decades-long disinformation campaign is the reason we are paying $6 a gallon on gas. We cannot solve the climate crisis without solving the climate disinformation crisis. These companies have spread climate disinformation for decades to mislead the public and maintain a permanent grip on our wallets, our communities and the planet.

California is already ground zero for the climate crisis — with record-breaking fires and historic drought — but it’s also the hub of environmental progress and clean innovation. Now more than ever, we must end the fossil fuel industry’s grip on public policy if we hope to preserve a livable planet. For Gov. Gavin Newsom, that means putting the health of Californians ahead of polluter profits by keeping his promise to move California to a renewable energy future.

We already have more fossil fuel reserves than we can safely burn. New permits in our state will not lower gas prices and only keeps us hooked on this boom-and-bust cycle, polluting our children’s lungs and wreaking havoc on the planet.

Continued on The Mercury News