Oil-production tax supporters launch ‘Yes on US’ campaign months before November election

Proponents of an oil-production tax increase that would fund several environmental-health programs launched a “Yes on US” campaign Wednesday calling for voter support.

The Long Beach City Council unanimously voted in July to place Measure US, a 15 cent increase on the city’s oil-production tax, on the November ballot.

Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents a large portion of North Long Beach, is among the measure’s supporters.

“With the funding generated from Measure US, our city will have the resources necessary to take meaningful action toward advancing equity,” Richardson said in a statement. “We’ll improve outcomes for our youth, address health inequities and fight climate change.”

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Richardson and other city officials hosted listening sessions called the Framework for Reconciliation in which they discussed challenges Black communities face, including health disparities.

Supporters of Measure US said the oil tax would fund programs that would help Black and Latino communities facing environmental health issues. North Long Beach residents are predominantly Black and Latino, and live in close proximity to hazardous environments where pollutants make it difficult to live healthy, according to a 2019 community health assessment.

An impartial analysis from the Long Beach City Attorney’s office stated that an increase in the barrel tax is estimated to generate $1.6 million in additional annual revenue.

The revenue from this tax would go to the city’s general fund, which pays for the city’s public services.

Proponents of the measure say it only increases taxes on oil companies within Long Beach and not residents. The city will be required to conduct annual audits, and all funds will be controlled locally, supporters stated.

An official with the Long Beach City Clerk’s office said they have not received applications for argument writers against the measure on the ballot. A recent political-research poll found that two-thirds of voters support the tax increase.

If voters pass Measure US following the November elections, the tax would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2021.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.