WatchSonoma Watch

Noreen Evans renews push for state oil tax


State Sen. Noreen Evans is making another run at the oil industry, and this time she’s bringing in reinforcements.

The Santa Rosa Democrat is joining forces with California college students, including local product Harrison “Jack” Tibbetts, in an attempt to get a tax on oil extraction in California.

Evans has failed several times to get similar legislation passed. “I will keep proposing this until it is passed,” she said Tuesday.

State Sen. Noreen Evans.

State Sen. Noreen Evans.

Tibbetts, a senior at UC Berkeley, has been leading a parallel statewide campaign in the past year seeking to qualify a ballot initiative for a levy on oil extraction.

The former Montgomery High School student has abandoned that effort, at least for now, to work with Evans on SB 1017. The pair were scheduled to appear at a student rally today at Sacramento State University to introduce the bill.

“Part of the reason we floated the ballot initiative was to create a soapbox to talk about the issue. In that sense, it really worked,” said Tibbetts, 23, son of local Democratic Party strategist Nick Tibbetts.

“We’re hoping that will carry momentum into this Legislative session,” he said.

Evans is proposing a 9.5 percent severance tax on the extraction of oil in California, which the senator estimates will generate about $2 billion annually.

That estimate is based on the current average price of $100 for a barrel for crude oil.

She noted that the big five oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell — earned a combined $30.2 billion during the first quarter of 2013, or $331 million per day.

The tax revenue would go into an endowment fund, with half allocated to the state’s three higher education systems, and the rest divided equally between the California parks system and health and human services programs.

Evans cited a proposed $500 fee at Sonoma State University — what administrators there label an academic success fee — as reason to support a new revenue stream for higher education. SSU students already pay some of the highest campus fees in the state university system.

“Obviously, there’s a critical need right now,” she said.

California, which produces about 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.

But California’s oil industry argues that it already pays about $6 billion annually in corporate, property and other taxes, as well as fees to fund state regulation.

That’s aside from royalty payments to the state, which total about $500 million annually, said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association.

He argues that a severance tax would reduce oil production, cost jobs and raise oil and gas prices.

“It seems to have a certain appeal as a sound bite when you say California doesn’t have a major oil severance tax, therefore we need one,” Hull said. “But history would suggest that upon closer inspection, the Legislature, governor and voters understand that raising the cost of producing energy when companies are already subject to significant taxation is not in the best interests of consumers or the state of California.”

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

Hull said Evans should be “given marks for consistency” for pressing the issue.

Advocates of the severance tax, sometimes called a depletion tax, contend that California’s current taxes on oil companies amount to a fraction of what some most major oil-producing states collect.

The senator failed in 2009 to get similar legislation passed. California voters also turned down Proposition 87 in 2006 that would have taxed oil extraction mainly for the purposes of funding alternative energy.

The senator’s most recent attempt, SB 241, died in committee in January. That was despite Democrats enjoying a two-thirds majority in the Legislature

Political observers say tax increases of any kind are going to be a hard sell in an election year.

Tibbetts, however, predicted it’s only a matter of time before advocates of an oil-tax succeed with their efforts. If the current attempt doesn’t work out, there’s always 2016, he said.

“It’s an unrelenting issue that is now becoming more and more understood by the general public,” he said.

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

14 Responses to “Noreen Evans renews push for state oil tax”

  1. Steveguy says:

    Texas doesn’t have an income tax, so comparisons are totally delusional. Alaska folks get a check. For us it’s just more taxes.

    Ohh wait, higher education needs more money to pay the THOUSANDS of entitled ones hundreds of thousands a year.

  2. Barbara McWms says:

    In Texas the average price of a gal of gas is $3.18. TX oil & gas industry pay 3x the amt of state & local taxes. These taxes pay for schools, textbooks, Medicaid & children’s health programs & protective services, roads, police & firefighters.

  3. Nancy says:

    Evens, you are your co-conspirators in Sacramento have spent this state into bankruptcy and now you want more tax money for your endless social programs and spending. You act like the family heir who spends the family fortune and then asks for more to keep the lifestyle going.

    End of the line. Time to get off the gravy train and find a life and a real job that will not continue to drain our bank accounts.

  4. Follower says:


    They’re Taxing us Enough Already and collecting PLENTY of our money to run the state.

    They’re just not capable of doing their jobs.

    So instead of REPLACING them with people who ARE capable of doing the job, we will vote to give them MORE of our neighbor’s wealth to cover up their incompetence, corruption and malfeasance.

    THEN… we will re-elect them.

    Because they have the proper letter after their names and here in “Wonderland”. . . that’s ALL THAT MATTERS!

    Have better ideas? Want fiscal responsability?

    Sorry… you have the scarlet “R”.

  5. Jim says:

    So the argument is that the oil companies make a profit so the state should get more of it? Why not levy a tax on Apple’s products? Why not tax Facebook for every one of their users? That’ll generate more money for the thieves in Sacramento to waste.

    And we all know this isn’t a tax on oil companies. It is a tax on US, the people who live and work (and drive) in CA. This tax will lead to higher gas prices, since they aren’t high enough. Maybe the state officials will let us drive the hundreds of Toyota Prius cars sitting idle in state parking lots. We paid for them but they aren’t being driven, instead parked on the top floor of a parking garage.

    I just can’t believe that people like this are endlessly re-elected. The most corrupt government system in the world is here in California and the Sheeple keep re-electing them.

    Let’s come up with more ways the government can steal from the private sector.

  6. David says:

    @The Hammer
    February 21, 2014 at 7:59 am

    “This tax will be paid by the consumer in the end. How stupid can this person be.”

    Just look at the post right above yours, why are liberals so naive???

  7. Grapevines says:

    Tax his land, tax his wage,
    Tax his bed in which he lays.
    Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
    Teach him taxes is the rule.

    Tax his cow, tax his goat,
    Tax his pants, tax his coat.
    Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
    Tax his work, tax his dirt.

    Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
    Teach him taxes are no joke.
    Tax his car, tax his grass,
    Tax the roads he must pass.

    Tax his food, tax his drink,
    Tax him if he tries to think.
    Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
    If he cries, tax his tears.

    Tax his bills, tax his gas,
    Tax his notes, tax his cash.
    Tax him good and let him know
    That after taxes, he has no dough.

    If he hollers, tax him more,
    Tax him until he’s good and sore.
    Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
    Tax the sod in which he lays.

    Put these words upon his tomb,
    “Taxes drove me to my doom!”
    And when he’s gone, we won’t relax,
    We’ll still be after the inheritance tax.

  8. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    We should charge an oil extraction tax. Oil companies make messes everywhere they exist and it ends up being the taxpayer who gets the bill. THE SHOULD pay an oil extraction tax in California as every other oil state charges it.

    All oil goes on the open market for bidding. California oil does not stay in California and a tax will not raise or lower the costs. We pay the highest gas prices because of our green policies (at least that’s what the oil companies say but they find any excuse to make more profits).

    And property taxes are not that high for businesses. Prop 13 ensured that. Other states charge significantly higher property taxes to businesses.

  9. The Hammer says:

    This tax will be paid by the consumer in the end. How stupid can this person be.

  10. Elephant says:

    Anybody know where the cheapest gasoline is in California. In the Sacramento area where the lawmakers and lobbyists are, that’s where. It’s at least 50 cents a gallon cheaper than here. Available for under $3.00 a gallon for regular when I last checked around Valentine’s Day.

    The gasoline prices in the rest of California are as high as they are simply because we keep paying them. This proposed tax is a great idea.

  11. Steveguy says:

    Alaska citizens get a check every year from their tax. Texas has no income tax due to it. We will just get a tax. And spend .

    By the way, there are more taxes resulting from oil production produced that their lies proclaim. They are low-balling the numbers just like they high-ball numbers when they lie to convince us of something. Like the SMART train has done for years.

  12. David says:

    Big oil is not going to just absorb the extra cost. The liberal fools still think they are not going to pay for this at the pump.

  13. Papa ESoCo says:

    Well,”Jumpin gee hosafat Hoppy”, something I can actually agree with on, coming from Ms. Evans.

  14. Grapevines says:

    Typical Democrat-Evans. Hasn’t seen a single thing that shouldn’t be taxed out of existence.

    California has some of the highest costs for gas in the country and she does not want to acknowledge that this may cause them to go even higher?

    Gee is she going to claim that “If you like your gasoline prices, you can keep your gasoline prices?”