Top Frequent Flyers Urge United Airlines to Get On Board with CA’s Fight Against Climate Change, Says StopFoolingCA

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Business Leader Calls on Airline to End Association with Oil Industry Front Group

Stop Fooling California

United’s reluctance to embrace clean energy standards is evidenced by the airline’s executive staff, both past and current, who play a leadership role in an oil company-sponsored front group.

In a media teleconference today, top-level United Airlines frequent flyers -- including California philanthropist and Prop 39 author Tom Steyer -- urged the carrier to stop trying to block standards to reduce pollution from vehicles and aircraft and instead encourage cleaner transportation fuels and smart market-based climate policies. As a member of United’s invitation-only “Global Services” program, Steyer is among the airline’s most important customers.

United’s reluctance to embrace clean energy standards is evidenced by the airline’s executive staff, both past and current, who play a leadership role in an oil company-sponsored front group, according to the group's website. “Fueling California” is working to dismantle California’s clean fuel standard (Low Carbon Fuel Standard), which is a key component of the state’s landmark clean air law, AB 32. The organization spent over a quarter of a million dollars lobbying against AB 32 in the 2011-2012 legislative session, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Fueling California is led by President and CEO Bob Sturtz, a 36-year United veteran who joined the board when he was United’s Managing Director of Strategic Sourcing. Serving alongside Sturtz, as a member of the Board of Directors, is Melinda Yee Franklin, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for United’s western region. In a press release issued June 5 about a new fueling supply arrangement for United, Fueling California described itself as an organization which "represents" the airline and other companies.

Fueling California is secretive about its finances, but a spokesperson told a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News on Jan 31 that the majority of its funding comes from Chevron.

Steyer called on United to withdraw its affiliation with Fueling California. In a statement put out today by Flying Clean, a national campaign working to cut pollution from airplanes, Steyer said:

“In my home state of California, United is playing a leadership role in trying to get rid of our clean fuel standard, which doesn’t even cover airlines. If United wants to stay competitive, it needs to take climate change seriously and act in its customers’ – and the planet’s – best interest. It’s time to recognize that the friendly skies will get a whole lot un-friendlier if we don’t take action on climate."

In the teleconference held this morning, Steyer and other representatives from United’s elite frequent flyer programs released a letter urging the company to take a stand on climate change. Joined by thousands of frequent and everyday flyers who signed an online petition, the message comes at the start of a week of key meetings of the international group working to set a standard for global aviation pollution, and two days before United’s annual shareholder meeting.

United’s business class and super frequent flyers represent only 5 percent of ticket sales but generate 50-75 percent of total profits, making them the airline’s most prized and influential customers.

Monday's teleconference was organized by Flying Clean with support from

### is an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. Twitter: #StopFoolingCA

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Julie Dixon

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