Western States Petroleum Association spent $4 million lobbying this summer

By Dan Bacher| November 9, 2014 |  The oil industry spent millions in political campaigns in California this election cycle, led b...

By Dan Bacher| November 9, 2014 | 

The oil industry spent millions in political campaigns in California this election cycle, led by the over $7.6 million that they used to defeat a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County. 

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, lauded the "volunteers" of the No on Measure P campaign for their successful efforts in a tweet to her supporters: 

“Congrats to the @NoOnMeasureP team & all the volunteers who helped make today reality! Glad Santa Barbara got it right on science & facts!” 

The oil industry also spent over $3 million in an unsuccessful effort to influence city council elections in Richmond California, as well as nearly $2 million in an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County. 

While mainstream media focused considerable attention on the millions of dollars dumped into political campaigns, they failed to mention the record $4,009,177.87 that the Western States Petroleum Association spent on lobbying legislators from July 1 through September 30. 

A news release from Sierra Club California reported, “Just days before the election, 7th quarter lobbying filings for the two-year legislative session were released. They showed that the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the lead trade association for oil companies, spent more than $4 million to influence legislators during the period including July, August and September this year, the last three active months of the legislative session. That compares to $1.7 million the group spent during the 6th quarter.” 

According to the documents that WSPA filed with the California Secretary of State's Office, the $4,009,177.87 included a total of $453,377.03 to lobbying firms, $1259.26 for "other expenses" and $3,554,541.58 for “total other payments to influence.” 

The largest amount of money spent on lobbying firms, $375,800.53, went to KP Public Affairs in Sacramento. 

Stop Fooling California (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians, asked in a tweet and on Facebook, “We know what @OfficialWSPA lobbyists give Sacramento. What are you getting in return?" 

They also challenged Reheis Boyd: “Hey @WSPAPrez, how come you spent $4 million this summer lobbying against CA's #cleanair laws?" 

Besides fighting California’s clean air laws, massive oil industry opposition resulted in the defeat of a bill to protect a marine protected area in Southern California from oil drilling. On August 26, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge stalled on the Assembly Floor, effectively killing the bill for the year. 

The bill, SB 1096, would have protected the Vandenburg State Marine Reserve, created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the rest of the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans. 

The mainstream media and the "alternative" media, with this exception of this reporter, failed to note the extreme irony of the fact that Reheis-Boyd had chaired the panel to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California and sat on the panel to develop "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast! (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/09/08/18761341.php

The oil industry also defeated Senator Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno's bill, SB 1132, calling for a fracking moratorium in California. State Senators voting 'NO' on the fracking moratorium bill on May 29, 2014 received 14 times as much money the oil and gas industry, on average ($25,227), as senators voting 'YES' ($1,772) from January 1, 2009 to December 21, 2012, according to MapLight, a non profit organization revealing money's influence on politics. 

The WSPA and the oil companies also were able to gut Senator Fran Pavley’s already weak Senate Bill 4, the "green light for fracking" bill, by introducing poison pill amendments before the Legislature passed it and the Governor signed it in September 2013. 

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