Measure US: If passed, revenues from oil barrel production tax to be spent on climate, youth and community health

Measure+US%3A+If+passed%2C+revenues+from+oil+barrel+production+tax+to+be+spent+on+climate%2C+youth+and+community+health

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On Nov. 3, Long Beach residents will vote on Measure US, an oil barrel production tax whose revenues could be used to address climate change and bolster youth services.

The measure proposes an increased tax on oil barrel production from 15 cents per barrel to 30 cents per barrel, coming at no cost to residents.

The tax is expected to bring $1.6 million in revenues to fund city services, according to an analysis by City Attorney Charles Parkin.

Though the measure has not yet passed, the Long Beach City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to prioritize spending of potential revenues on climate change, community health and youth services.

Councilmember Rex Richardson was resoundingly in support of the resolution, pointing out that the priorities align with the City’s Climate Action Plan, Racial Reconciliation Initiative and Youth Strategic Plan.

“Given what we’ve dealt with in the past few weeks [….] red skies, red sun and a lack of ability to go outside and exercise due to the air quality, that is a direct impact of climate change,” Richardson said. “Making investments in climate makes sense.”

The resolution of intent places a focus on equity in spending decisions. As pointed out by Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, residents in low-income districts often experience worse air quality and, consequentially, negative health effects.

Councilmember Suzie Price also pointed out that sea-level rise, another impact of climate change, affects some districts more than others.

“In our mind, the concept of equity is looking at what people need and looking at a needs-based system and trying to bring those resources to where the need is,” City Manager Tom Modica said.

The resolution of intent doesn’t pinpoint any particular projects for funding. City Attorney Charles Parkin said this was intentional, given that the city would continue to receive the tax revenue long after many projects will be completed.

The revenues are not expected to be spent structurally but rather allocated on a year-by-year basis to areas that need the funds most.

“Some might be more immediate in one year than others,” Modica said. “But again this is a long term planning horizon that we’re looking at if this funding source were to be passed.”

Mac Harris, a youth ambassador with the Invest in Youth Coalition, voiced support for the resolution and Measure US.

“Right now, Long Beach has an opportunity to increase revenues for communities most impacted by systemic and environmental racism,” Harris said. “When we vote ‘yes’ on [Measure] US, we hold local oil companies accountable to pay their fair share in taxes.”

Long Beach residents will be able to vote on Measure US at the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Arguments for the measure are available from the Office of the City Clerk, though no opposition argument has been submitted.