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How Tom and the People turned the tide to stop the Puente Power Plant

In the coastal city of Oxnard, California, Tom Steyer and the people defeated one of the largest energy corporations in the United States. The victory changed the way large, gas-fired power plants are permitted in the state and sent a powerful message to communities across America: when people come together, they can win.

For decades, polluters targeted Oxnard as an industrial dumping ground, instead of the wealthier, whiter communities of Malibu and Santa Monica nearby. The city’s population of primarily Latinx, foreign-born, and low-income residents don’t have easy access to their beach — three power plants and a Superfund site divide homes from the sand. The asthma rates in some neighborhoods are higher than 90% percent of the rest of the state.

A group of Oxnard residents, including many young activists, wanted to change their community. They started organizing and successfully pushed the Oxnard City Council to unanimously approve a ban on new power plants along their city’s coast. But NRG Energy, the country’s biggest independent electric power company, ignored the ban.

NRG applied to the state for a new, gas-fired facility — the Puente Power Plant.

A coalition of residents, environmental activists, and local elected officials protested NRG’s proposal. Tom heard about their efforts and asked how he could help. He attended state hearings with them, testified against the power plant, wrote articles, and rallied supporters around the state.

Together, Tom and the people turned the tide. State officials announced their decision to reject the gas facility and NRG withdrew its application. The Puente Power Project was dead. 

Today, all the power plants on Oxnard’s coast, two of them owned by NRG, are closed. But NRG is refusing to take responsibility for demolishing its plants and restoring the beach. There is still a lot to do, but Tom will continue working with communities to take on corporate polluters.

Tom and the People

Founded Need to Impeach

Tom launched a grassroots movement that grew to over eight million people.

Defeated Dirty Energy in Nevada

Tom sponsored a ballot initiative to raise the minimum amount of renewable power.

Beat Big Oil

Tom shut down efforts to roll back climate laws.

Held Big Tobacco Accountable

Tom forced big tobacco companies to pay their share of tobacco-related health care costs.

Beat Dirty Energy in Michigan

Tom joined voters demanding more renewable power and energy efficiency programs.

Amplified the People's Voice

Tom joined an environmentally-burdened community and defeated the polluting Puente Power Plant.

Led Research for Sustainability

TomKat Ranch is a place that explores new sustainable agriculture methods.

Beat Big Pharma

Tom and a coalition won a drug-pricing transparency bill in California.

Banking For The People

By 2018, more than 75% of Beneficial State Bank’s loan portfolio funded mission-based categories.

Mobilized Voters

In 2018, NextGen America reached over seven million young people between 18 and 35 years old.

Won Funding For Schools

He helped close a corporate tax loophole to generate billions of dollars for public schools.