Hold California utilities accountable

What's At Stake

When you think about what you’re paying for in your electric and gas utility bill, you probably think of the energy powering your lights, furnace, and stove. But you may also be paying for your utility to lobby against popular clean air and climate standards. You can help change that.

From erecting front groups to lobby against state climate policies to paying a business association to recruit speakers opposing electrification at public hearings, utilities like SoCalGas have charged customers tens of millions of dollars in their campaign to keep Californians dependent on fossil fuels.   

Thankfully, new legislation has been introduced in California that can tackle this problem and ensure Californians aren’t footing the bill for their utility’s political and promotional activities. Earthjustice and our partners are proud to be co-sponsoring SB 938, the Utility Accountability Act, authored by Senator Dave Min.  

The legislation protects Californians by clearly defining the political and advertising activities for which utility shareholders – and not customers – must foot the bill. It will create strong transparency and penalty provisions to ensure compliance, no longer allowing utilities to charge customers for expensive memberships to trade groups that lobby against climate action like the American Gas Association and Edison Electric Institute.   

For years, utilities in California have gotten away with slipping the costs for their political influence machines into Californians’ energy bills. It’s time to pass common sense measures to end this shameful practice and protect Californians’ pocketbooks and our climate with a forward-looking new law. 

People hold signs in front of a gated facility. One says "SoCalGas makes me sick"
Activists march in protest at the front gate to Southern California Gas Company's Ventura Compressor Station in Ventura, California. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).

Delivery to California State Legislature

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Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.