ICYMI: Big Oil Misleading Californians (Again), Fact Check Finds

SACRAMENTO – Big Oil is running “misleading” ads on TV and online across the state, lying to Californians to protect their record profits while polluting our communities.

According to a fact check from The Sacramento Bee, ads that are funded by major oil lobbying groups Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) are misleading Californians about gas prices.

This comes on the heels of news that Big Oil spent $34 million last year on lobbying in California, with most of those resources directed at fighting to continue to drill in neighborhoods near schools and homes.

Governor Gavin Newsom is working with the Legislature to advance a price gouging penalty to hold Big Oil accountable for fleecing Californians at the pump.

Selected portions of the article are below (read the full article here).

Fact check: Does less oil drilling and more imports lead to higher gas prices in California?

The Sacramento Bee

Feb. 8, 2023

Claim: Californians are paying higher gas prices because the state no longer produces most of its own oil and instead imports the majority of its supply. 

Rating: Misleading

“It is generally understood that California oil fields are getting old and production has been declining since the mid-1980s,” said Lindsay Buckley, a CEC spokeswoman, in an email. “Regardless of permit activity, new wells aren’t being drilled at accelerated rates, and those new permits are tapping into fields that have little resources left to give under normal economic situations.” 

Moreover, less California crude may be better for the environment. David Clegern, a California Air Resources Board spokesman, said [the] state’s crude oil is “generally more carbon-intensive than imported crude.”

Claim: An increase in imports drives up California gas prices. 

Rating: Misleading

Crude oil prices are not one of the factors that explain the gap between California gas prices and the national average, [U.C. Berkeley Professor Severin] Borenstein said. Those prices are set by the global market, meaning that even if oil is slightly cheaper to produce in-state, the price is still set at a rate competitive with product from overseas. 

“Consumers will not benefit from more oil production in the state and they will not be hurt by less oil production in California,” Borenstein said.