SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — It was only a few weeks in the past that California Gov. Gavin Newsom referred to as the oil business the second strongest power on earth, trailing solely Mom Nature in its potential to bend the weather — each bodily and political — to its will.

But on Tuesday, Newsom signed a brand new legislation that offers state regulators the ability to penalize oil corporations for making an excessive amount of cash, the primary of its sort within the nation. It’s the kind of laws the oil business may need crushed previously. However on Monday, the invoice cleared the state Meeting with just one Democrat voting towards it.

“We proved we may lastly beat huge oil,” Newsom mentioned Tuesday after signing the invoice.

The invoice is the most recent in a string of defeats for the oil business in California, a state many don’t consider as a fossil gasoline powerhouse. However for many years, California was one of many main oil producers in the US with a bustling business that was a key a part of the state’s economic system. The state is now the nation’s seventh-largest oil producer, based on federal information.

The oil business doesn’t thoughts a David vs. Goliath comparability “so long as you assume we’re David and never Goliath,” Kevin Slagle, spokesperson for the Western States Petroleum Affiliation, mentioned in regards to the business’s affect on the state Capitol. “Simply have a look at the outcomes the final couple of years on laws.”

Oil manufacturing has been steadily declining because the late Eighties from a mix of exhausting provides and the state’s altering coverage priorities. A state legislation requires California to be carbon impartial by 2045, which means the state would take away as many carbon emissions from the ambiance because it emits. The state’s plan to take action would cut back demand for liquid petroleum by 94% by 2045.

State regulators have banned the sale of most new gas-powered vehicles in California by 2035. And final yr, the state Legislature authorised a invoice limiting the place new oil wells will be drilled, offering buffer zones round houses, faculties and different delicate websites.

“We’re by no means going to get it proper, by way of this transition (away from oil), until we reduce and mitigate the ability and affect of huge oil on this nation,” mentioned Newsom, now in his second time period in workplace and extensively seen as a possible presidential candidate past 2024. “They’re the most important obstacle to a simply transition.”

Whereas its affect in California may need diminished, the business continues to be asserting itself. The Western States Petroleum Affiliation spent $11.7 million lobbying lawmakers within the 2021-2022 legislative session, excess of every other single group. Chevron adopted behind it, spending $8.6 million, based on state marketing campaign finance filings. The following closest single spender was the California Academics Affiliation, at $7.1 million.

Likewise, the business spent thousands and thousands on marketing campaign contributions within the 2022 election, supporting each Democrats and Republicans. Greater than 1 / 4 of all 120 seats within the Legislature are newly elected members.

These donations didn’t all the time translate to favorable votes. New Assemblymember Esmerelda Soria, a Democrat who represents elements of the Central Valley, was the highest beneficiary of cash from a Western States Petroleum Affiliation-affiliated committee. Soria voted Monday to help the laws regardless of business opposition.

The one Democrat to vote towards the potential oil income penalty was Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains, whose district consists of Kern County, house of the state’s oil business. Her vote appeared to irk the Newsom administration.

Bains, a household drugs and dependancy physician who was first elected in November, tweeted an image of the vote, saying: “Stand alone should you should, however all the time stand for fact.”

Dana Williamson, Newsom’s chief of workers, replied: “Alone and confused you shall doubtless stay.”

Bains mentioned she voted towards the invoice as a result of in the course of the top of the gasoline value spike final summer time, the Newsom administration and legislative leaders refused to droop the state’s gasoline tax. They argued oil corporations wouldn’t cross alongside the financial savings to drivers.

“What’s to cease them from passing on the price of this new tax with excessive costs on the pump?” Bains mentioned. “That inconsistency is much more irritating.”

Although the business couldn’t cease the laws, its presence may very well be felt within the closing model, mentioned Chris Micheli, a veteran California lobbyist who represents enterprise shoppers however was not concerned within the oil income laws. Newsom initially referred to as for the Legislature to cross a brand new tax on oil firm income. Then he requested lawmakers to as an alternative impose a penalty if oil firm income surpassed a sure threshold.

Lastly, Newsom and lawmakers agreed to let the California Power Fee resolve, punting the choice to a five-person panel appointed by Newsom with the consent of the state Senate. The invoice additionally creates a brand new state company with the ability to watch the petroleum markets, together with requiring oil corporations to reveal plenty of information about their pricing.

“The very fact it took them three completely different substantive proposals to seek out one thing that may truly cross the Legislature I feel goes to point out the continued energy and affect of the oil business on this state,” Micheli mentioned.

Subsequent yr, the oil business can be seeking to exert its affect in one other enviornment — public opinion. The business is difficult a brand new state legislation that bans drilling new oil wells close by houses, faculties and different delicate areas. Voters will resolve in 2024 whether or not to uphold the legislation.

“The partisan numbers of the 2 homes of the Legislature have dramatically modified,” Micheli mentioned, referring to Democrats now having whole management over state authorities. “The broader enterprise neighborhood goes to need to go to the voters on some problems with public coverage.”

Newsom acknowledged Monday the significance of oil for the worldwide economic system, telling reporters: “I’m driving house tonight” and “I’m flying this weekend.”

“Oil has constructed the American economic system, constructed the commercial economic system, I get it,” Newsom mentioned. “However we’re transitioning. And all I’m asking for is don’t rip us off anymore.”