The Big Oil Dirty Dozen, Part I

By Dan Bacher | April 27, 2014 |  California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporat...

By Dan Bacher | April 27, 2014 | 

California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley to the  computer and technology industry in the Silicon Valley, but none are more influential in state politics than the oil industry.

Stop Fooling California recently revealed in a chart that the oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, BP and other oil companies, spent over $56.63 million on lobbying at the State Capitol in the five years from 2009 through 2013.

This money is enough to spend $471,000 on each California Senator and Assemblymember, 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.  

The money spent by Big Oil on lobbying has been a very good investment, since the industry was able make sure that only fracking legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last year was Senator Fran Pavley’s “green light for fracking bill,” a ominous piece of legislation that will result in the expansion of fracking in Kern County, coastal areas and offshore waters.

After my article about this chart was written, Stop Fooling California emailed me the data on the money spent by individual oil companies  and organizations each year during this time period.

So who were the top 12 spenders on lobbying, "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen"?

It is no surprise that Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, placed first in "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen” with $23,987,896 spent on lobbying in Sacramento from 2009 through 2013.

The organization spent $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013.

The 4,670,010 spent by WSPA while lobbying state government in 2013 was more than any other interest group, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office. 

According to the WSPA website, “Founded in 1907, WSPA is the oldest petroleum trade association in the United States. Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is a non-profit trade association that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.”

WSPA's headquarters are located in Sacramento, California. Additional WSPA locations include offices in Torrance; Bay Area; Santa Barbara; Bakersfield; Scottsdale, Arizona and Olympia, Washington.

Cathereine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, 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. 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 terrible bill even worse.   

The organization’s power was also demonstrated when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 appointed Reheis-Boyd as Chair of Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. 

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