Category Archives: Oil industry lobby

Western States Petroleum Association Continues to Top California Lobbying Expenses

Repost from CounterPunch

Western States Petroleum Association Continues to Top CA Lobbying Expenses

By Dan Bacher, August 19, 2016

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, continued to dominate the lobbying spending in Sacramento in the second quarter of 2016.

“If you can count on anything, it’s WSPA (Western States Petroleum Association) throwing down some serious cash on lobbying,” said Stop Fooling California in their latest newsletter, the Crude Truth. “And this quarter was no exception.”

At the helm of WSPA is President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas in Southern California. The “marine protected areas” created under her “leadership” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, oil spills, pollution, military testing, energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

Reheis-Boyd, who continually pushes for the evisceration of California environmental laws and the expansion of fracking and offshore oil drilling in California, also served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The group broke down some alarming Big Oil lobbying figures for the 2015-16 Legislation Session:

• WSPA ranks #1 among lobbying spenders this session, paying $2.2 million to KP Public Affairs, the top-grossing lobbying firm in California.

• WSPA has spent over $3 million so far in 2016, and $14 million since January 2015.

• Overall, the oil lobby has spent nearly $28 million to date in the 2015-16 legislative session.

“That’s an average of over $50,000 per day since January 1, 2015, and includes the $6.3 million in lobbying expenses reported so far in 2016 (over $1 million per month in 2016),” the group said. “If you’re into math, that translates into Big Oil spending $39 per asthmatic child in California to deny their right to breath clean air.”

• Chevron has spent $5.5 million so far in the 2015-16 session. Chevron ranks #5 among all lobbyists in the current session. “If there is any doubt that lobbying equals real influence, look no further than SB32, a bill setting a 40 percent emissions reduction target below 1990 levels by 2030, which may be punted into the next legislative session,” the group added.

For lobbying “its face off,” Stop Fooling California awarded WSPA their latest “Scummy” award.

WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in five major 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.

Powering California: Big Oil teams up with LA Times

Stop Fooling California’s previous “Scummy” award went to “Powering California” for its new videos praising oil and attacking green energy.

“You may remember Powering California,” the group said. “It’s a front group of Occidental Petroleum’s spinoff company California Resources Corp. (yes, that’s complicated on purpose), which teamed up with the Los Angeles Times’ ‘content solutions’ team to spread industry propaganda last year.”

“Powering California is back, now with a series of videos, at the exact time California is debating critical legislation that will determine our climate future, in California and in other states,” Stop Fooling California said.

As Media Matters for America reported: “Powering California is out with a series of new videos praising oil and attacking clean energy sources. One of the videos baselessly asserts that ‘renewable energy can’t replace oil,’ falsely claims wind energy is ‘expensive,’ and bombastically declares that ‘oil and natural gas are woven into the fabric of America.’ Another video features feel-good man-on-the-street interviews with paid actors touting California’s oil and gas industry.” (http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/07/25/party-conventions-big-oil-s-media-manipulation-strategy-full-display/211879)

Consumer Watchdog: Fossil fuel industry has donated $9.8 to Jerry Brown

Meanwhile, Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer organization, on August 10 released an alarming report claiming that oil, gas and utilities gave $9.8 million to Governor Jerry Brown and his causes, often within days of winning big favors.

“The timing of energy industry donations around important legislation and key pro-industry amendments, as well as key regulatory decisions in which Brown personally intervened, raises troubling questions about whether quid pro quos are routine for this administration,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker, author of the report, in a press release. “While Brown paints himself as a foe of fossil fuels, his Administration promoted reckless oil drilling, burning dirty natural gas to make electricity, and used old hands from industry and government, placed in key regulatory positions, to protect the fossil fuel-reliant energy industry.”

In spite of its reputation as a green state, California under Governor Jerry Brown is the third biggest oil state in the nation and a promoter of some of the most environmentally devastating policies in the country.

The Governor is promoting as his legacy the Delta Tunnels/California Water Fix, the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history that poses a huge threat to the ecosystems of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Klamath and Trinity river systems. As Brown relentlessly pushes the tunnels plan, his administration is overseeing water policies that are driving winter run-Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other species closer and closer to extinction.

Jerry Brown also oversaw the “completion” of faux “marine protected areas” under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, overseen by the WSPA president and other corporate interests, in December 2012.

Brown has also promoted carbon trading and REDD policies that pose an enormous threat to Indigenous Peoples around the globe; has done nothing to stop clearcutting of forests by Sierra-Pacific and other timber companies; backs the weakening of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); presided over record water exports from the Delta in 2011; and oversaw massive fish kills of Sacramento splittail and other species in 2011.

Brown may spout “green” rhetoric when he flies off to climate conferences and issues proclamations about John Muir Day and Earth Day, but his actions and policies regarding fish, water and the environment are among the worst of any Governor in recent California history. That’s why to anybody familiar with the real record of Governor Jerry Brown, Consumer Watchdog’s “Dirty Hands” report is no surprise.

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

 

    Oil firms dig deep to battle Colo. anti-fracking initiatives

    Repost from The Coloradoan

    Significant funding gap in Colorado fracking fight

    By Jacy Marmaduke, August 18, 2016 11:17 a.m. MDT
    Anti-fracking protesters
    Anti-fracking protesters

    Committees fighting proposed Colorado ballot measures that would limit fracking have raked in about $15 million in donations this year, more than 35 times the contributions of groups backing the measures.

    About 90 percent of the anti-ballot measure donations have come from energy companies, including $10.5 million from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy alone.

    “We’ve never seen a number like this from the opposition,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, the state government watchdog group that released the numbers confirmed by the Coloradoan. “It shows that (businesses) are ready to spend a lot of money in the best interest of the company’s bottom line.”

    In contrast, individual donations of less than $1,000 have been the primary fuel for the pro-ballot measure efforts, bolstered by support from U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, his father and the executive director of the fundraising committees. The pro-ballot measure committees have received about $424,000 in donations this year.

    Petitioners submitted signatures for proposed ballot measures 75 and 78 on Aug. 8, the day they were due. The Secretary of State will declare the signatures sufficient or insufficient by Sept. 8. If the office confirms petitioners collected about 98,500 valid signatures for each measure, they’ll appear in the November election.

    Measure 75 would amend the state constitution to allow local control of oil and gas development, effectively overturning the Colorado Supreme Court’s denial of Fort Collins’ fracking moratorium and Longmont’s fracking ban.

    Measure 78 would amend the state constitution to increase setbacks for oil and gas development from 500 feet to 2,500 feet from occupied structures. The measure would also require a 2,500-foot setback from “areas of special concern,” a category that includes most water sources and riparian areas, parks, sports fields, playgrounds and public open spaces.

    The current setback of 500 feet is about the length of 1 1/2 football fields. The proposed setback of 2,500 feet is about a half-mile. It would apply only to new development — but the ballot measure includes reentry of existing wells in its definition of “new development.”

    Two committees are working on each side of the proposed ballot measures: Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking and Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas are on the pro-ballot measure side. Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence and Vote No on 75/78 are on the anti-ballot measure side.

    About 30 percent pro-ballot donations were in the form of services from organizations like Food and Water Watch and Greenpeace. Those services are assigned cash values for record-keeping purposes.

    “A successful ballot initiative usually costs at least a million dollars,” Toro said. “That might be an indication of where they’re headed.”

    The committees could see a cash infusion if they’re approved for the ballot, Toro added. Committee representatives weren’t available for comment.

    The anti-ballot measure committees have received about $15 million in donations this year, not including about $746,000 Protect Colorado had on-hand on Jan. 1. About 10 percent of those donations were in the form of services.

    “These measures are so extreme and such a threat to Colorado’s economy that we’ve got the commitments to spend $24 million to fight them,” Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy said. “We’ve been very upfront about that from the beginning.”

    The anti-ballot measure committees have spent 20 times more than the pro-ballot measure groups as of Aug. 1 — $5 million versus about $250,000, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. Also as of Aug. 1, the anti-ballot measure side had roughly $9.1 million to the opposition’s $43,000.

    Lists of top monetary donors for each side of the issue give you a good idea of how their fundraising has taken shape.

    Top monetary donors for pro-ballot measure committees:

    1. Patricia Olson (founder of both committees): $60,300
    2. J. Christopher Hormel (Boulder philanthropist): $60,000
    3. (tie) Lush Cosmetics: $25,000
    4. (tie) Jared Polis: $25,000
    5. (tie) Fracking Fund of the New World Foundation: $25,000
    6. (tie) Stephen Schutz (physicist, greeting card designer, Jared Polis’ father): $25,000

    Top donors make up 52 percent of 2016 contributions.

    Top monetary donors for anti-ballot measure committees

    1. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation: $5.5 million
    2. Noble Energy: $5 million
    3. PDC Energy: $750,000
    4. Synergy Resources Corporation: $650,000
    5. Bayswater Exploration and Production: $500,000
    6. Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation: $300,000

    Top donors make up 85 percent of 2016 contributions.

    The American Petroleum Institute, the national trade group representing the oil and gas industry, funded about $1.1 million worth of consulting and other services for Vote No on 75/78 but isn’t on this list because the donations were considered non-monetary.

      Quick links: Summary of recent oil train news

      By Roger Straw, August 5, 2016
      Lawmakers are considering a bill to mandate disclosures on oil trains in New Jersey. (NewsWorks file photo)
      Lawmakers are considering a bill to mandate disclosures on oil trains in New Jersey. (NewsWorks file photo)

      Personal events and local volunteer activities have kept me from my usual rounds of collecting and posting daily news stories on crude by rail, high hazard flammable trains and the transition to a clean energy economy.

      So … here is a LONG but brief listing of important and/or interesting links to keep you up on the news: