WatchSonoma Watch

Noreen Evans calls for tax on oil for education, parks


In a replay of earlier battles, state Sen. Noreen Evans is going after Big Oil in California in an attempt to raise money for higher education and state parks.

The Santa Rosa Democrat on Tuesday introduced legislation seeking a tax on oil extraction in California.

Noreen Evans.

Noreen Evans.

Evans said the tax would raise an estimated $2 billion annually, 93 percent of which she proposes to steer toward public colleges and universities and the rest to help shore up the state’s beleaguered parks system.

“It’s just common sense,” Evans said Tuesday.

Evans failed in 2009 to get similar legislation passed. California voters also turned down Proposition 87 in 2006 that would have taxed oil extraction — called a severance tax — mainly for the purposes of funding alternative energy.

Evans said her chances are better with SB 241, known as The California Education and Resources Reinvestment Act, because Democrats now have a two-thirds majority in the Legislature and because the money would be devoted to education and parks, two causes the state’s residents care passionately about.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

An oil industry representative, however, predicted that the effort would fail again.

“Once people come to understand the implications of increasing taxes on energy production, they do seem to reach the conclusion that it’s bad policy for the state of California,” said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association.

California, which Hull said produces 550,000 barrels of oil a day, is the only oil-producing state in the nation that does not levy a severance tax on the enterprise.

Evans said the 9.9 percent severance tax she wants the oil industry to pay is about in the middle of what other oil-producing states impose.

The revenues would help fund California’s three higher education systems and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Evans announced the bill on the same day she attended a Capitol hearing on fracking, the controversial process of creating fractures in underground rocks and rock formations to extract oil or gas.

She said based on estimates of how much oil could be produced in California using the method, a severance tax could generate as much as $10 billion annually.

“If we don’t create an oil-extraction tax right now, that means California doesn’t capture all that revenue,” she said.

Hull said California’s oil industry pays about $6 billion annually in property, corporate and other taxes related to production and distribution. The figure is based on 2009 data, which Hull said is the most recent available.

Hull said adding a tax would reduce oil production, cost jobs and create “upward pressure” on oil and gas prices.

Other experts say such a tax would not lead to higher energy costs for Californians, primarily because the price of oil is set in the world market.

Evans’ effort to funnel more taxpayer money to the state Department of Parks and Recreation is notable given her vocal criticism of the agency, which was engulfed in scandal last year after it was discovered that officials were sitting on a hidden surplus of $54 million at a time when 70 parks statewide were threatened with closure.

Evans on Tuesday said the public can have confidence that money raised through an oil tax would be spent as intended by state parks because the agency has new administrators who are subject to stricter legislative oversight.

“I think the department is seeing much more public scrutiny, as well as internal discipline,” she said.

Roy Stearns, a spokesman for state parks, said the agency welcomes “innovative approaches” aimed at achieving “a sustainable funding source.”

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

28 Responses to “Noreen Evans calls for tax on oil for education, parks”

  1. Grapevines says:

    I once supported law enforcement and closed my eyes to their corruption.

    But with the current guilty plea of the Santa Rosa Junior College police officer for theft of public funds, I must agree with Snarky that police are out of control in California and across the country.

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  2. Troll spotting says:

    The comments by the trolls on this article are, as usual, incoherent, off point, and complete nonsense.

    I wish the PD would moderate these postings so that the literate readers can have an intelligent interchange and debate on the ideas at hand.

    This is an article about having oil producers pay their fair share to the people of our state for the natural resources they exploit.

    Are all these commentators working for oil companies? Really? Chevron made over $5B profits last year, and paid nothing to the state for removing oil?

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  3. Don Dressel says:

    How can we have HIGHER EDUCATION when we have IDIOTS in education that have no COMMON SENSE . They are going after 5 year olds that play with their ” hello kitty guns that shoot bubbles” and kids that pretend their leggos are guns! Give me a break! We all use to play army when we were kids!

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  4. Snarky says:


    Cancel public pensions for any public employee convicted of a felony crime.

    Case in point:

    The current arrest of CHP Asst Chief 49-year-old Kyle Scarber, Central Division.

    He has been charged with felonies related to helping his convicted rapist son escape to Mexico.

    Since he is able to collect 90% of his pay at retirement (for life), why not just cancel that pension since he is accused of commiting a FELONY crime against the taxpayers of CA?

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

  5. bear says:

    Who are the welfare recipients? The ones living on unemployment and food stamps, or those commenting here?

    FYI there is free parking in the County Center, unless you are management or parking a County car in a necessary location. Can’t find a parking space? Guess it is an enormous challenge for dimwits?

    FYI only public safety employees and management get substantial retirement
    Benefits at age 50. The rank and file get shit.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  6. Snarky says:

    Speaking of taxes, those higher taxes are needed to support those “public safety pensions” that pay not only cops and firemen but other government workers 90% of their pay at only age 50.

    And the following link will take you to view where your “public safety” tax dollars are going to.



    What is it that the cops always chant?
    You get what you pay for ?

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  7. pete says:

    Why can the oil companies raise their prices after they are taxed? The tax should be on the profit they make. I cant go out buy all my groceries then tell the government that my paycheck is acutally $300 less and pay taxes to that amount. (can I)

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  8. Grapevines says:

    Evans is just as big of a jerk as Nanny Pelosi is. Does not think California has a spending problem and believes it should just tax itself to death.

    Tax and spend is all she knows

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 9

  9. Reality Check says:

    A severance tax on oil might be a good idea if California didn’t already have high taxes in practically every other area. Yes, Texas imposes a severance tax, but i’s income tax on oil is about one-tenth that of California. When you compare total taxes on oil, California collects as much as most other states.

    I know, California likes to have the highest taxes in all areas, and a severance tax is all that stands in the way of that “honor.” But, really, just how anti-business do you want California to be? California is already the most expensive place in the nation to do business. The result is high unemployment. Don’t wonder where the jobs went. They went to other states that don’t try to kill the goose.

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  10. Brian Brazoot says:

    And for all of you who claim that this is “just another tax” foisted on the public by that sneaky Noreen Evans, how about this….don’t buy gasoline.

    There. No tax for you!

    I’ll be riding my bike and my 100mpg Vespa — while me and those pesky taxes will go right by you.

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  11. Elizabeth says:

    The price of oil is set by the international market, not conditions in California. This will not increase your taxes or the price of gas. How many times does that have to be repeated before you get it? It actually has the potential to lower your taxes. Every other state, even places like Texas and Alaska, charges oil companyies for taking the peoples’ oil. They diddn’t make the oil. Why shouldn’t they pay for what they take? This is long overdue.

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  12. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    The posters on here seem to think it’s a tax on them personally. It’s a tax on OIL EXTRACTION LIKE OTHER STATES CHARGE. Why should this state be the ONLY STATE in the US that does not charge a oil extraction tax? These very same oil companies in this state operate in the other states as well.

    WE NEED THE MONEY AND THEY SHOULD PAY THEIR SHARE. Afterall, the extraction of oil and gas is harmful to the environment. They should be paying for the right to extract and for the damage they cause when they extract. And they make BILLIONS on our oil.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on fracking in this EARTHQUAKE STATE. In states where fracking takes place and there’s never been an earthquake, they now have earthquakes. Pumping chemicals into the ground lubricates the surrounding area and we have way too many earthquake faults that I personally don’t want lubricated.

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  13. George Macaulay says:

    Ms. Evans know full well that other than income taxes corporations do not pay taxes! They pass them on to the consumer of thier goods/services. Just anoth slick trick to tax the citizens of California without the masses knowing they justtaxed themselves! Calif. voters are idiots!

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  14. Commonsense says:

    Apparently CA has a tax on the amount of crude oil produced in the state, which is similiar in description as the extraction tax discussed above. Also of note is that CA has one of the highest Corporate Tax rates in the US and the US has the highest federal Corporate Tax rate. According to some articles from differing tax organizations (some from both sides of the aisle), when the total amount of taxes applied by a state regarding oil production/extraction are calculated, Ca is on par with Texas, not vastly behind it as indicated above. Makes me wonder about how well the above article was researched and fact checked.

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  15. David says:

    Don’t you tax lovers realize that any tax imposed will be passed on to you the consumer? Are you really that naive?

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  16. GAJ says:

    Even I think this is a logical move that should have been made a long time ago though I rarely agree with Ms. Evans’ politics.

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  17. Brian Brazoot says:

    “California is the largest — and only — oil producing state in the entire U.S. that doesn’t tax it’s vast oil resources.”

    Noreen Evans is trying to bring California into the 21st century, to help our economy, and to make all of our standards of living better.

    How can anyone with even half of a brain vilify her for that? Oh, right, I almost forgot. Conservative politics always come before human rights, environmental protections, economic solvency, and thinking.

    Boo free rides for big oil. Yay smart state reps like Noreen Evans!

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  18. Snarky says:

    I further propose a substantial fee to be imposed and collected from every public employee or politician who steps outside of Sonoma County during the course of any workday, any workweek, or any paid time frame.

    They are being paid to remain in Sonoma County and perform work here.

    If they choose to leave Sonoma County for pretend “business” of any kind, we should collect an amount from them equal to that pay that they take from us while they are outside of our county.

    Fair is fair. Lets TAX the government people.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 7

  19. Snarky says:

    I propose charging the public employees of Sonoma County a parking fee for parking in the lots not available to the public.

    Why do they get their own parking places FREE of charge?

    Yes, parking fees. Time to implement parking fees on ALL public employees within Sonoma County.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 8

  20. Bonnie S. Arthur says:

    Keep up the good work, Noreen! The majority of people in Sonoma County support your efforts.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 41

  21. Vinyl Rules says:

    @Tired of Tax and Spend

    Do you sincerely think that “cutting the benefits of our elected leaders” would be more than a drop in the bucket budget-wise? The total compensation for ALL state employees is about 10% of the budget. The portion of the budget designated to electeds is less than 1%. Oh and CA legislators draw no pension whatsoever. Your blind hatred of elected leaders is partially why we are in this mess.

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  22. JOe says:

    50 years ago the CEO to Average worker pay was 30 to 1…. Today it’s 400 to 1.

    Report: Firms spent more on CEO pay than taxes
    Twenty-five of the 100 largest U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more than they paid the government in federal income taxes last year, according to a report released Wednesday.
    The nonprofit Institute for Policy Studies says the 25 CEOs averaged $16.7 million in salary and other 2010 compensation. Most of the companies they ran, meanwhile, came out ahead at tax time, collecting tax refunds that averaged $304 million, according to its review of public filings. http://tinyurl.com/3qnyamm

    The GOP’s Intellectual Dishonesty Regarding Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich
    Republicans say that tax cuts for the wealthy must be extended to protect the economy and small businesses, even though neither would be affected by their lapse. http://tinyurl.com/2cgltuc

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  23. Tired of Tax and Spend says:

    Tax and spend, tax and spend with no accountability. How about cutting the benefits of our elected leaders to fund education? That could very well solve the problem.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 11

  24. cate says:

    Who keeps voting for these idiots like Noreen Evans? She is just another tax and spend liberal with an ingenious idea: more taxes! We already pay enough tax for everything, and especially oil. Noreen Evans and the rest ought to focus on making government smaller and less costly. Now there’s an ingenious idea!

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  25. Nora Gonzales says:

    We are paying the most taxes in the US right now. We don’t need more taxes, we need our budgets cut, our roads fixed with funds now being diverted to social programs and a new agenda for our failed public education.

    Evans is just another nanny state politican, who wants to steal from the middle class and give it to the socialists running our institutions.

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  26. Grapevines says:

    Noreen Evens is your typical Damn-o-crap. She hasn’t seen the tax she would oppose. And like any other Damn-o-crap, she’d spend it on any hair brained scheme her handlers put before her.

    Absolute waste of otherwise usable oxygen.

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  27. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Maybe you all don’t know but all other oil states charge the oil companies an oil extraction tax INCLUDING TEXAS. It makes sense. We should also be charging an oil extraction tax. We pay the highest in the continental United States for our gas in California. That fire in Richmond didn’t change what gas was available in California yet our prices went up anyway. And I guess, people don’t seem to know that the US produces oil that GOES TO MARKET and is sold ON THE MARKET with the US bidding for its own oil ON THE MARKET. We don’t keep our oil here. So China, and Japan, and other countries bid our oil. More drilling does no necessarily mean more oil stays here.

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  28. Steveguy says:

    Noreen Evans would call for a breathing tax. Any tax, as she loves taxes.

    Yet she supports those fraudulent ADA lawyer scam artists. Never mind, they CONTRIBUTE to her election, so she has to comply with the money.

    Thumb up 49 Thumb down 14

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