Tom Steyer, a San Francisco billionaire who has funded two ballot-measure victories, wants California to impose an oil-extraction tax.

The hedge-fund chief has set up NextGen Climate Action, a political advocacy group that said this week it’s launching a campaign and media blitz to push the legislature to tax oil at the wellhead.

“We can’t afford to disadvantage California to the tune of $1 billion to $2 billion per year,” Steyer told the Contra Costa Time. “We don’t have the luxury of not having the fees that every other oil-producing state charges.”

Energy companies now generate as much as $6 billion for California, according to Tupper Hull, vice president of the Western States Petroleum Association.”Policies designed to discourage petroleum energy production are clearly going to have the effect of increasing our dependence on foreign oil.”

California produces 200 million barrels a year, fourth behind Texas, North Dakota, and Alaska.

It’s the only such state with no extraction tax for oil from private lands, Steyer’s group said.

He has spent $37.3 million on political causes over the past four years, the Contra Costa Times said, including $5 million in 2010 to help defeat Proposition 23, which would have rolled back California’s greenhouse-gas emissions law.

He gave $32.3 million to “almost single-handedly bankroll Proposition 39, forcing out-of-state business to pay taxes on their California sales with proceeds funding energy efficiency and green-energy projects in public buildings and schools,” the report said.

Steyer said California state taxes and fees now add up to  $4.22 per barrel.

Texas, he said, levies a 4.6 percent tax rate and royalties of 28 percent on oil producers, and Alaska, Louisiana, Montana and North Dakota have similar tax rates.

But the Tax Foundation ranks California 48th in the nation for its unfavorable business tax environment.

Texas ranks 11th, while Alaska is 4th. Montana is 7th, Louisiana is 33rd, and North Dakota is 28th.


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