Sacramento’s Biggest Corporate Lobby

THE ECOreport reposts an OP-Ed: the Western States Petroleum Association’s grip on California,  Sacramento’s Biggest Corporate Lobby

by Dan Bacher

This is a revised transcript of a short speech that I gave at the end of the “Changefest rally” held on the north steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento on January 21. I will post a report on the rally later.

Sacramento’s Biggest Corporate Lobby

The Western States Petroleum Association is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in the West and California. It has spent more than other lobbying organization in Sacramento in recent years to exert control over the Governor’s Office, regulatory agencies and State Legislature, but its enormous influence appears to be one of California’s best-kept secrets.

Big Oil, along with Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Timber and other corporate interests, dominate politics in California, as well as in Washington, D.C., as evidenced by Donald Trump’s nomination of EXXON CEO Rex Tilleson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and other oil and energy corporation shills to his cabinet.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is a “non-profit trade association” that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.

WSPA’s membership includes a who’s who oil, energy and pipeline corporations including Aera Energy LLC, Chevron, Californian Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Noble Energy, Inc., Phillips 66, Plains All American, Inc. Shell Oil Products US, Tesoro Refining and Marketing and Valero. www.wspa.org/…

$112,371,214 On Lobbying Expenses

From January 1, 2009 to November 8, 2016, the oil industry spent $112,371,214 on lobbying expenses in California, according to a new report, “The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy.” The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Sydney Office produced the report, in collaboration with a coalition of conservation, consumer and environmental justice groups.

The Western States Petroleum Association led the oil industry lobbying expenses with $49,491,104 during this period, followed by Chevron with $24,035,901 and Phillips 66 with $4,821,144. For more information, go to: www.counterpunch.org/…

The California Oil Lobby remains the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $32.4 million so far. “That’s the equivalent of dropping $50,750 EVERY DAY since January 1, 2015,” reported Stop Fooling California.

WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials in the seventh quarter, while Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.

The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.

How WSPA Uses It’S Money

WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways, through:

  1.  lobbying;
  2. campaign spending;
  3. getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels;
  4. creating Astroturf groups: and
  5. working in collaboration with media.

Big Oil and other corporate advocates have dominated appointments to Commissions and regulatory panels in California under Governors Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, ranging from the Department of Conservation, to the California Public Utilities Commission, to the California Energy Commission, to the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force.

the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces

In a classic case of the “fox guarding the hen house, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 at the same the oil industry was fracking South Coast ocean waters. Reheis-Boyd also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast, and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

Reheis-Boyd’s husband, James D. Boyd, sat on on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2/2007 to 1/2012.

Get Big Oil Out Of Politics

More recently, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) in September opened an investigation into the California Democratic Party in response to a report by a prominent consumer group, Consumer Watchdog, claiming that the party acted as a “laundry machine” to funnel donations from oil, energy and utility companies to Brown’s 2014 election campaign. For more information, go to: redgreenandblue.org/…

There is no doubt that Big Oil and other corporate interests dominate politics in California and Washington — and that we must relentlessly work to get Big Oil out of politics by supporting efforts like the Move to Amend, movetoamend.org, and the California Clean Money Campaign, www.caclean.org.

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