Oil wells

Pump jacks continue their work, but aren't nearly as profitable today as they were last year.

Voters will decide if Long Beach increases its oil tax to fund racial equity programs. The city’s Measure US is on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election.

Long Beach’s current oil barrel production tax — which is paid by those producing oil in the city, rather than the city’s residents — is 47 cents per barrel. Measure US would raise it to 62 cents per barrel.

Signal Hill’s oil barrel production tax is 67 cents per barrel. Seal Beach, meanwhile, has a 45-cent-per-barrel tax, and Huntington Beach’s tax is 37 cents per barrel.

According to an impartial analysis of the ballot measure by Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin, the measure would generate $1.6 million annually for the city’s general fund. City Council members have said the money would help fund racial equity programs.

No one submitted official arguments against the measure, although the idea has garnered some criticism.

Anna Christensen, an environmental activist, said as the council considered placing the item on the November ballot that, while she lauded the goals of ending racial and social injustice in Long Beach, she believed an oil tax would essentially allow the city to profit from environmental destruction.

“Funding social and environmental justice,” she said, “should not involve doing harm to people or to the natural world.”

But Measure US has strong support from others.

In an official argument in favor of the measure, Coalition for Clean Air Deputy Policy Director Chris Chavez and others wrote that the increased tax would help Long Beach become a more equitable city.

“Voting YES provides Long Beach with the funding it needs to start eliminating disparities in our neighborhoods most impacted by institutional racism,” the argument says. “With no costs to taxpayers, Measure US invests in better outcomes for our youth, increases economic opportunities, and implements the city’s plan to fight climate change.”

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