California’s Marine Protector Pushes For More Offshore Drilling, Less Regulation

by Dan Bacher Catherine Reheis-Boyd, a big oil lobbyist who served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Ta...

by Dan Bacher

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, a big oil lobbyist who served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, has been very busy lately.

After overseeing the implementation of so called marine protected areas that now ban kayak anglers and other sustainable fishermen from large areas of Southern California waters, Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, has been relentlessly lobbying for new offshore oil drilling off the West Coast, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the expansion of the environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing (hydro fracking) and the evisceration of California’s landmark environmental laws.

In her latest assault on environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd’s Western States Petroleum Association today released a so-called “independent study” conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that argues for weakening California’s climate change regulations.
“California’s multiple climate change regulations will have serious unintended consequences for the state’s transportation fuel markets, including significant job losses, disruptions to fuel supplies, and higher costs for businesses and consumers,” according to a news release from the Association.

BCG employed its “proprietary modeling expertise and experience as a leading energy consultancy” to analyze the cumulative impacts on refiners and fuel markets from several California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations that are at or nearing the implementation phase, including the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the current design of the state’s cap and trade program, the news release noted.

In a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown, Catherine Reheis-Boyd said, “WSPA and its members are convinced the fuels policies now in place and those proposed to be implemented for the purpose of achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction have set California on a course that cannot be sustained but can be corrected.”

“The current fuels policies will have significant unintended consequences on California’s refiners, and consequently their employees, consumers and the state. California can and should continue to play a leadership role on climate change polices but we need to begin now to chart a new course for securing our emission reduction goals without unnecessary fuel market disruptions,” Reheis-Boyd’s letter continued.

“Our hope is this report will be an important tool to begin a serious conversation in California about how we can achieve the desired greenhouse gas emissions reductions while minimizing impacts on California fuel producers, consumers, employers and the economy,” said Reheis-Boyd.

“This is the first comprehensive analysis of the cumulative effect of CARB’s climate change policies. Our hope is that in sharing this research with policymakers and the business, labor, environmental and consumer sectors we can begin a process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in realistic and practical ways without hampering California’s economic recovery. We are already reaching out to these important groups to start that conversation now,” she said.

For more information on Reheis-Boyd’s lobbying efforts for the Keystone XL Pipeline, hydro fracking and offshore oil drilling, see: Why Is A Big Oil Lobbyist In Charge Of California’s Marine Protection Program?

The BCG study, “Understanding the Impact of AB 32,” was unveiled today at the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Symposium sponsored by Fueling California.

Reheis-Boyd not only chaired the panel that developed the so-called “marine protected areas” that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, but she served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast and North Central Coast.

The “marine protected areas” that Reheis-Boyd helped to implement fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military and seismic testing, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. They constitute one of the most egregious examples of corporate greenwashing in California history.

“Marine protected areas can in some instances be beneficial for specific areas, species or ecosystems,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “However, the problem we have here is that these ‘marine protected areas’ are in essence no fishing zones and they don’t protect for water quality and other types of development or insults to the environment from activities such as seismic testing.”

While Reheis-Boyd today argues for “minimizing impacts on California fuel producers, consumers, employers and the economy,” she cared nothing about “minimizing impacts” to sustainable recreational and commercial fishermen when it came to kicking them off the water through the creation of questionable “marine protected areas.”

The key role that Reheis-Boyd played as an MLPA Initiative official in closing fishing and gathering over large areas of California ocean waters while doing nothing to stop ocean industrialization, pollution and other threats to the environment is one of the “most censored” California stories of recent years.

Inexplicably, state officials have rejected requests for an investigation into conflicts of interest posed by Reheis-Boyd in her role as “marine guardian,” as well as conflicts of interest posed by a marina operator and real estate executive that served on the task forces.

John Lewallen, longtime North Coast environmentalist, seaweed harvester, the co-founder of the North Coast “Seaweed Rebellion” movement and staunch opponent of offshore oil drilling, the clearcutting of forests and corporate greenwashing, believes that Reheis-Boyd’s position as an “oil industry superstar” was a conflict of interest with her position as chair of a task force charged with developing “marine protected areas.”

“Reheis Boyd is moving right on up, really advancing the cause of the oil industry,” commented Lewallen in 2009. “By setting up these no-take marine reserves and kicking fishermen, Indians, seaweed harvesters and other ocean food providers off traditional areas of the ocean, the Schwarzenegger administration is paving the way for offshore oil drilling. Twenty-three percent of the nation’s offshore oil reserves are off the coast of California.”
One of the most shameful things about the creation of these alleged “Yosemites of the Sea” and “marine parks” is that representatives of corporate “environmental” NGOs refused to oppose Reheis-Boyd’s leadership role in the MLPA process, although many grassroots environmentalists including Lewallen repeatedly slammed the big oil lobbyist’s position as a “marine guardian.”

Not only was the MLPA Initiative ridden with numerous conflicts of interest, but it is based on questionable science. The Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, believes the science behind the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative developed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Science Advisory Team is “incomplete and terminally flawed.”  (See: The inconvenient truths about California’s MLPA ocean protection.)

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