Western States Petroleum Association Topped California Political Spending In 2013

By Dan Bacher | February 6, 2014 | The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organizati...

By Dan Bacher | February 6, 2014 |

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report. 

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association 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, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year. 

The oil industry added last minute amendments to Senator Fran Pavley's already weak legislation to regulate fracking in California, Senate Bill 4, last September, making an already bad bill even worse. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, dubbed by environmentalists the "green light for fracking" bill, on September 20. 

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California. 

The top 10 companies and groups that hired lobbyists during 2013 spent a total of $30.5 million, reported the Capitol Weekly (http://capitolweekly.net/top-10-lobbying-firms-billed-40-million/). 

The rest of the top 10 spenders were: 
• California State Council of Service Employees, $4.26 million. 
• California Chamber of Commerce, $3.7 million. 
• California Hospital Association/California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, $3.15 million. 
• Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. — $2.24 million. 
• AT&T Inc. and its affiliates — $2.33 million. 
• California Medical Association — $2.27 million. 
• SEIU-UHW (Labor organizations) — $1.88 million. 
• Southern California Edison, $1.84 million. 

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4. 

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california

Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. 

Governor Brown, a strong supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, has become known as the "Big Oil Governor." Robert Gammon, East Bay Express reporter, revealed that before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, Brown accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission

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