Big Oil Lobbyist Praises EDF for “Balanced Approach” to Fracking

By Dan Bacher |May 16, 2016 |  Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the f...

By Dan Bacher |May 16, 2016 | 

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, has praised the supposedly “balanced approach” to fracking advocated by the Environmental Defense Fund and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the recipient of millions of dollars of Walton Family Foundation money every year, is a supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking for natural gas and oil. The group claims fracking would provide “measurable environmental benefits” in spite of the enormous harm that fracking poses to human health, groundwater and surface water supplies, and fish and wildlife populations. 

EDF is no stranger to corporate greenwashing campaigns, since the corporate “environmental” NGO is also a big backer of “catch shares” or “catch and trade” programs that privatize fisheries. These programs for the 1 percent result in fisheries being transferred from traditional fishing families into fewer, increasingly corporate hands.The Walton Family Foundation donated $8,500,000 to EDF to promote catch shares in 2013 and $7,800,000 in 2012.

Reheis-Boyd, in her latest blog on the Western States Petroleum Association website, applauded Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Michael Bloomberg for calling for “sensible rulemaking” and “measurable regulations” on fracking in their April 29 op-ed in the New York Times. 

It is crucial to understand that the Western States Petroleum Association that Reheis-Boyd heads is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento. The organization spent a total of $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 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (

Reheis-Boyd said: 

“In an April 29 opinion editorial published in the New York Times, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in advocating for a balanced approach to hydraulic fracturing: 

‘The shale gas boom is indeed lowering energy costs, creating new jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and delivering some measurable environmental benefits as well. Unlike coal, natural gas produces minuscule amounts of such toxic air pollutants as sulfur dioxide and mercury when burned — so the transition from coal- to natural-gas-fired electricity generation is improving overall air quality, which improves public health. There’s also a potential climate benefit, since natural-gas-fired plants emit roughly half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired ones.’ 

We agree. Krupp and Bloomberg also called for sensible rulemaking and measurable regulations that protect the environment while allowing the petroleum industry to capitalize on an historic moment in our nation’s economy. Despite the emotions surrounding hydraulic fracturing, the American energy renaissance, led by the increase in domestic shale oil and gas production, can move forward safely.” 

Reheis-Boyd then used her blog piece to greenwash Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, the green light to fracking bill in California, claiming that “California is leading and innovating this entire discussion.” 

The vast majority of conservation and environmental justice groups strongly opposed Senate Bill 4 because it would create a clear path to expanded fracking in California. However, the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters supported the legislation until the last minute - withdrawing their support only after the oil industry added “poison pill” amendments to further weaken the badly-flawed legislation. 

Reheis Boyd also reiterated oil industry disinformation claiming that the Pavley bill created the “most stringent” fracking regulations in the nation: 

“Senate Bill 4 regulations, passed at the end of last year’s session, are the most stringent hydraulic fracturing regulations in the nation. The bill requires companies to obtain a permit from the state, notify surrounding landowners, conduct pre and post fracturing water tests, disclose all chemicals used in the process, conduct regular pressure tests on wells to ensure well integrity and submit extensive water management plans. 

This week’s New York Times opinion editorial is a good reminder we must finally agree to embrace balanced policies that can achieve strict environmental protection, economic growth, and increased domestic energy security.” 

Reheis-Boyd is extremely hypocritical for saying she supports "balanced" policies and “strict environmental protection," based upon her dubious record as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast.  

She and her collaborators on the task force made sure that the questionable "marine protected areas" created in Southern California under her "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. Reheis-Boyd, state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates ensured that these alleged "marine protected areas" were good for big oil and ocean industrialists - and bad for fishermen, tribal gatherers and the public trust. 

Reheis-Boyd also "served" on the MLPA initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast and she currently sits on a federal "marine protection" panel, NOAA's 20 member Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee. As she served on these panels, the oil industry engaged in a frenzy of environmentally destructive fracking operations off the Southern California coast, as revealed in an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation last year. 

The corrupt process that Reheis-Boyd oversaw created no take "state marine reserves" that violate the traditional gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other California Indian Tribes to harvest seaweed, mussels and fish, as they have done for thousands of years. The privately funded process also rejected numerous requests by Yurok Tribe scientists and lawyers to present scientific studies that countered the terminally flawed and incomplete "science," based on flawed assumptions, that drove the MLPA Initiative. (

As Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribe member and Coastal Justice Coalition organizer, said before a direct action protest against the MLPA Initiative in Fort Bragg in July 2010, “The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism. It doesn’t recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists.”  

“Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is it systematically decimates our ability to be who we are,” emphasized Myers. “That is the definition of cultural genocide. 

To make make matters even worse, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team – the same controversial state panel that inexplicably rejected the Yurok Tribe’s science studies - will be sentenced on May 20 on a single federal charge of conspiracy to embezzle nearly $1 million from the Yurok Tribe!( 

On February 11, LeValley, of Mad River Biologists, pled guilty to the charge in federal court. Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond, former Yurok Tribe forestry chair, to embezzle the funds through a complex scheme of fake and inflated invoices and payments for spotted owl surveys that LeValley and his organization never performed. The link to the federal indictment is available here

More recently, the industry that Reheis-Boyd lobbies for engaged in over 100 violations of California’s new public disclosure rules for fracking and other dangerous oil production methods. The violations were uncovered by a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of records from the state, the oil industry and South Coast air quality regulators. 

In a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, the Center revealed that state regulators with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources have failed to disclose legally mandated reports for 47 frack jobs and notices for more than 100 uses of other risky oil production techniques. 

“This lack of disclosure underscores the failure of current regulations and the need for strong action that will protect public health and safety and the environment,” the letter says. 

However, these overt violations of California environmental law are just a small taste of the massive violations of environmental laws that will take place if Reheis-Boyd and her collaborators are allowed to proceed with their plans to expand fracking operations in California. 

If the oil industry and Governor Jerry Brown have their way, groundwater and surface supplies will be polluted with numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene. According to the Center, evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water. 

Human health, endangered Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish populations and many wildlife species will be imperiled by increasing water pollution in California, as well as by the increasing use of water for fracking that is badly needed for people, farms and fish during the current drought. 

In addition, air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, according to a Colorado School of Public Health study

There is no doubt that we must completely reject the false claims by the oil industry, the Environmental Defense Fund and Michael Bloomberg that fracking can be conducted in a "safe" and "sensible" manner that "protects" the environment. We must call on Governor Brown and other state officials to ban fracking now! 

We must also call on Brown and state and federal officials to halt the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the biggest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The tunnels will provide water for fracking and steam injection operations used to extract oil in Kern County, as well as for corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California water agencies. For more information about the twin tunnels, go to

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