Chevron announces lawsuit challenging oil refining ballot measure

Chevron announces lawsuit challenging oil refining ballot measure
Richmond's Chevron Refinery. Photo/ Linda Hemmila

According to a statement released by Chevron on Monday, a newly formed organization is challenging the text of the "Make Polluters Pay tax" ballot measure that will go before voters in November.

Chevron spokesperson Ross Allen said the Coalition for Richmond’s Future is challenging the wording of measure, charging it is "false, misleading, and biased in violation of the California Elections Code."

At its June 17 meeting, The Richmond City Council unanimously approved a resolution placing an oil refining business license tax on the November ballot, which proposes taxing oil refining within the City of Richmond.

The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the Clerk for the City of Richmond and the County Registrar from including what they refer to as improper language on the ballot and the sample ballot and a judgment declaring that the use of public funds to prepare, print, and distribute the biased ballot label violates the voters’ rights under the California Elections Code, as protected by the U.S. and state constitutions. 

The statement says special interests pushed the Richmond City Council to place the measure on the November 2024 ballot calling for a tax that would charge $1 per barrel of feedstock refined in the City of Richmond, including those from renewable sources.

Council puts oil refining business license tax on November ballot
The Richmond City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution placing an oil refining business license tax on the November ballot. If passed by voters, the ordinance implements a business license tax dubbed the “Make Polluters Pay tax” on oil refining at the rate of $1 per barrel of feedstock refined within the City of Richmond.

"That proposed ballot label is false, misleading, and biased in favor of the measure in violation of state law," Allen said.

The statement also said that funds generated by the tax are for general governmental purposes, to be deposited into the City’s general fund and used at the discretion of the City Council.

"The ballot label incorrectly states—and improperly argues—that funds will be earmarked for certain, specified projects that are more popular with voters. Richmond spends, on average, 77% of its general fund revenues on employee salaries and pension benefits, which is nowhere in the ballot label," Allen said.

The coalition believes the language the Richmond City Council has proposed needs to be corrected so voters are not led astray.

"When provided a fair and impartial ballot question, as required by law, we believe Richmond voters will soundly reject this measure and the negative consequences it would have on their cost of living," Allen said.

Grandview contacted one of the ballot initiatives' sponsors, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, but received word that the organization is closed this week.

This story will be updated; check back for more information.

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