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Big Oil Spent $10.8 Million to Pass Jerry Brown’s Cap-and-Trade Bill

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State officials and the mainstream media depicted the passage of Governor Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade bill last month as a “historic climate victory,” but over 65 environmental justice, conservation and public interest organizations slammed the bill because of the devastating impact it will have on front line communities, the people of California and our air and water.
The lobbying expenses by the oil industry in the second quarter of 2017 revealed how urgent the industry felt it was to pass AB 398, legislation based on a Big Oil wish list, that will extend California’s controversial cap-and-trade system beyond 2020.

Chevron, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Tesoro captured the top three spots for lobbying expenses between April 1 and June 30, 2017, according to data filed with the California Secretary of State. The groups said they spent the money to lobby for AB 398, along with lobbying for and against other legislation.

The San Ramon-based Chevron and subsidiaries topped all other lobbyists with $6,153,952 spent, followed by the Sacramento-based WSPA with $2,528,751 and the San Antonio-based Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co. LLC with $2,193.489.

That’s a total of $10,876,192 — in just one quarter!

The Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, normally tops the quarterly lobbying list. However, last quarter Chevron officials apparently felt that the passage of AB 398 was so important that they needed to exceed even WSPA in spending.

WSPA is the oil industry trade association for the Western States of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who serves as the organization president, is one of the most connected industry officials in California politics.

Polluter loopholes & tax breaks galore

Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch, shed light on why the oil industry was so intent on getting AB 398 passed; it gives loopholes and tax breaks to corporate polluters that could actually result in more, not less, emissions.

“The bill, heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry, makes California’s flawed cap-and-trade system worse by allowing excessive allowances to pollute and preventing local regulation of greenhouse gases,” said Scow. “The climate crisis demands that the State regulate and reduce pollution quickly, but this bill gives polluters loopholes and tax breaks that could result in increased emissions. California’s cap-and-trade system cannot be considered a model for any state or nation that takes the climate crisis seriously.”

The total spending by corporations, agribusiness groups, business associations, unions, environmental NGOs and other organizations to lobby state officials totaled $91.2 million in the second quarter, according to the Sacramento Bee: www.sacbee.com/…

In the first quarter of 2017, Big Oil also dominated California lobbying expenses. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) topped the list of California lobbyists in the first quarter of 2017, spending a total of nearly $1.4 million, $1,387,602. The Howard Jarvis Tax Association placed second with $1,011,973 spent, while Chevron placed third with $968,370.

WSPA and Chevron together spent a total of $2,355,972 from January 1 to March 31, 2017, while Tesoro dished out $249,424. That comes to a total of $2,605,966 for the three oil industry organizations. (www.sacbee.com/…)

The total of spending by Chevron, WSPA and Tesoro in the first two quarters this year comes to $13,482,158.

In spite of its “green” facade, Jerry Brown’s California is the third largest oil producer in the nation, surpassed only by the number one state, Texas, and the number two state, North Dakota.

Big Oil is on target to set new spending record in current session

The California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million on lobbying over the two-year period. Based on the oil industry lobbying last quarter alone, it looks like the industry may set a new spending record this session.

Big Oil spending last session amounted to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. To read the complete report, go to:

WSPA was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders last session. In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials.

Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016 alone, sixth among all lobbyists in the session.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent over $146 million in lobbying in California when you include the figures for the first two quarters of 2017.

WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) creating Astroturf groups: 4) working in collaboration with media; and (5) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels.

A huge conflict of interest

In a classic example of the “fox guarding the hen house,” WSPA President Reheis-Boyd served as a state regulatory official from 2004 to 2012,, a huge conflict of interest that the media and many NGOs are apparently afraid to discuss.

Backed by corporate “environmental” NGOs and state officials, she chaired the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California. She also served on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The “marine protected areas” created under the helm of the WSPA president and other corporate operatives and political hacks fail to protect the ocean from offshore oil drilling, fracking, oil spills, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

It’s no surprise that some of the same NGOs that backed the WSPA-lobbyist overseen MLPA Initiative also supported the WSPA-written AB 398.

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Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.

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