Bill to make California companies pay for climate damages clears first legislative hurdle

By Blanca Begert, Ariel Gans | 04/18/2024 06:15 AM EDT

California joins a group of states trying to pass climate Superfund bills to fine oil and gas companies for damages caused by climate change.

 Caroline Menjivar holds a press conference on the steps of the California Capitol.

A bill by California state Sen. Caroline Menjivar (D) would require the state to make its fossil fuel companies pay for climate damages. Ariel Gans/POLITICO

SACRAMENTO, California — A bill to fine California’s oil and gas industry for damages related to climate change passed its first committee Wednesday.

What happened: The Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved S.B. 1497, by state Sen. Caroline Menjivar, which would require the state to assess fees on the state’s historic large greenhouse gas emitters.

Menjivar said she would amend the bill to clarify that utilities wouldn’t be included. She also accepted amendments to give the Legislature more say over how the funds collected are spent, according to her office.


The bill: S.B. 1497 would create a program in California’s EPA to assess fees on companies that did business in the state and emitted more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 from 2000 to 2020 via the extraction, production and sale of fossil fuels.