The oil industry is proud of its contributions to the California economy, including 370,000 jobs for hard working men and women throughout the state. That’s why it is frustrating to see the continuing mischaracterization of California tax policies regarding oil production. (“Oil severance tax plan slips into view,” Capitol Weekly, April 14).
Companies involved in oil production here pay taxes directly on the oil itself via property taxes and indirectly through myriad other levies including one of the highest corporate taxes in the nation, a rare sales tax on manufacturing equipment, employee taxes and on and on. Studies show the tax burden California places on oil production is among the heaviest in the country.
It seems the least understood aspect of this tax system is the role of property taxes. In California, the value of oil underground is included in property assessments and reflected in property tax payments. This is a very direct tax on oil and one that other states do not impose. It is also the reason that anything that cuts into the value of oil underground – such as an oil severance tax – forces a reduction in property tax revenues to local governments and schools.
Economic studies have shown adding a severance tax to the existing burden would cost thousands of jobs, increase our dependence on foreign oil and add another weight to our struggling economic recovery. That is not a solution to any problem facing California.
Understanding this, voters and the legislature have repeatedly in the past five years rejected proposals for an oil severance tax. The facts speak for themselves.
Western States Petroleum Association
Regarding “Power play in the East Bay over greenhouse gases” (Capitol Weekly, March 31), the Board of Trustees for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District firmly believes that a price cannot be placed on the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
Our board, chancellor, students, faculty and staff remain resolute in our opposition to building a gas-fired power plant next door to Chabot. Our position is simple: Any activity of this kind near the campus threatens the health of the people who go to Chabot to learn and work. This is not an appropriate site for this plant.
We are unmoved by Calpine’s advantages and mastery of the regulatory and court systems. We are not interested in taking the corporation’s money in return for silence. We are offended that its executives believe that we shouldn’t be allowed to spend our resources to fight a problem that they foisted upon us.
We understand that we are the last holdouts. We are unwilling to accept a donation check from Calpine to remain quiet and move on. This issue is about the health and safety of our students and employees at Chabot. It is our intent to remain opposed because we feel strongly that the plant should not be built in the proposed location.
Barbara F. Mertes, Ph.D.,
President, Board of Trustees
Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, Pleasanton