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Noreen Evans renews push for state oil tax

State Sen. Noreen Evans is making another run at the oil industry, and this time she's bringing in reinforcements.

The Santa Rosa Democrat is joining forces with California college students, including local product Harrison “Jack” Tibbetts, in an attempt to get a tax on oil extraction in California.

Evans has failed several times to get similar legislation passed. “I will keep proposing this until it is passed,” she said Tuesday.

Tibbetts, a senior at UC Berkeley, has been leading a parallel statewide campaign in the past year seeking to qualify a ballot initiative for a levy on oil extraction.

The former Montgomery High School student has abandoned that effort, at least for now, to work with Evans on SB 1017. The pair were scheduled to appear at a student rally today at Sacramento State University to introduce the bill.

“Part of the reason we floated the ballot initiative was to create a soapbox to talk about the issue. In that sense, it really worked,” said Tibbetts, 23, son of local Democratic Party strategist Nick Tibbetts.

“We're hoping that will carry momentum into this Legislative session,” he said.

Evans is proposing a 9.5 percent severance tax on the extraction of oil in California, which the senator estimates will generate about $2 billion annually.

That estimate is based on the current average price of $100 for a barrel for crude oil.

She noted that the big five oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell — earned a combined $30.2 billion during the first quarter of 2013, or $331 million per day.

The tax revenue would go into an endowment fund, with half allocated to the state's three higher education systems, and the rest divided equally between the California parks system and health and human services programs.

Evans cited a proposed $500 fee at Sonoma State University — what administrators there label an academic success fee — as reason to support a new revenue stream for higher education. SSU students already pay some of the highest campus fees in the state university system.

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