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California's biggest "secret" - oil industry capture of the regulatory apparatus

By Dan Bacher - IndyBay, July 27, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The biggest, most explosive story in California environmental politics is the capture of the regulatory apparatus by the regulated, but you wouldn’t know it if you rely on the mainstream media for your information.

While corporate agribusiness, the timber industry, insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and other corporate interests spend many millions of dollars every year on lobbying and campaigning in California, Big Oil is the largest, most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento.

No industry has done a better job of capturing the regulatory apparatus than Big Oil. The oil industry exerts inordinate influence over the regulators by using a small fraction of the billions of dollars in profits it makes every year to lobby state officials and fund political campaigns.

Big Oil spent an amazing $266 million influencing California politics from 2005 to 2014, according to an analysis of California Secretary of State data by StopFoolingCA.org, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to “mislead and confuse Californians.”

The industry spent $112 million of this money on lobbying and the other $154 million on political campaigns.

2014 was the biggest year-ever for Big Oil spending on lobbying and campaigns. The oil industry spent a combined total of 38,653,186 for lobbying and campaigns in 2014. That is a 129 percent increase from the 2013 total of $16,915,226!

The top lobbyists in the oil industry during this 10-year-period were:

  • Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA): $50,111,867
  • Chevron: $23,442,629
  • BP: $6,788,261
  • Shell: $4,536,112
  • Occidental: $4,315,817

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), an oil industry trade association that every year tops the list of spenders among the state’s lobbying groups, spent a record $8.9 million on lobbying in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

WSPA spent much of its lobbying money on stopping a fracking moratorium bill in the Legislature and trying to undermine California’s law to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The group also successfully opposed legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans. In a bizarre scenario that could only take place in the "green" state of California, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of WSPA and Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable “marine protected areas” in Southern California, lobbied against marine protection in a "marine protected area" that she helped to create!

But for all of the millions WSPA and the oil companies spend every year on lobbying, they dumped even more money, $154 million, into political campaigns during the ten-year-period.

EcoUnionist News #52

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, June 16, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

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An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

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Activists imprisoned in Azerbaijan, the house that BP built

By Gabriel Levy - People and Nature, June 7, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A protest against Azerbaijan’s crackdown on political dissent will be staged in London this Friday, 12 June, as the first European Games open in Baku.

At least 33 human rights defenders, youth movement activists, bloggers, journalists and others have been jailed in the last year in Azerbaijan – where the UK-based oil group BP is the largest foreign investor.

Campaign groups and media have been shut down, and dissidents forced to leave the country, just as economic problems have brought large numbers of Azeris out to protest.

There has been a “major escalation of government repression, pressure and intimidation, directed at NGOs, civil society activists, journalists and human rights defenders”, a resolution of the European Parliament said in September last year. It highlighted:

  • Some of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders, including Leyla Yunus of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, and her husband the historian Arif Yunus, have been imprisoned on “apparently politically motivated charges”;
  • “Eight activists of the non-governmental youth movement NIDA were convicted on [trumped up] charges of hooliganism, drug possession and possession of explosives” after a wave of demonstrations in 2013;
  • The Oil Workers Rights Protection Organisation, the only independent group championing the labour rights of Azeri oil workers, has had its bank accounts frozen and faced other forms of harassment; and
  • Many more journalists, human rights defenders and activists are facing trumped-up legal charges, and “dozens” of
    others have been imprisoned on charges such as “hooliganism, drug possession, tax evasion and even treason”.

Despite international criticism, the regime has stepped up repression as next week’s games have drawn nearer. Rasul Jafarov, who organised the “Sing for Democracy” protest when the Eurovision song contest was held in Baku, and then took forward that campaign with “Art for Democracy” was sentenced to six and a half years in jail on 16 April, the same day that BP held its annual shareholders’ meeting in London.

On Friday demonstrators in London will go to the corporate headquarters of BP. It’s an excellent choice: there can not be many economies so completely dominated by one foreign company as Azerbaijan’s is by BP.

Santa Barbara disaster inevitable with Big Oil's capture of the regulatory apparatus

By Dan Bacher - Daily Kos, May 25, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The same region devastated by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969 is now the scene of a massive clean up of crude oil by the state and federal governments and volunteers. The international and national media have spread throughout the world the startling images of the oil soaked beaches, birds, fish and ecosystem in a deluge of TV, radio, newspaper and internet reports.

The oil spill resulted from the rupture of an oil pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline, a subsidiary of Plains All-American Pipeline, near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, May 19. A 24-inch wide, 11-mile long section carrying oil from offshore platforms and an Exxon Mobil processing plant onshore leaked as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil. An estimated 21,000 gallons made into the ocean, devastating nine miles of coastal waters and beaches.    

The oil spill that began off Refugio State Beach was inevitable, when you consider the capture of the regulatory apparatus by the oil industry in California. Until people challenge the power of Big Oil in California and the industry's control over the state and federal regulatory agencies, we will see more of the Refugio-type of oil spill disasters in the future.

During the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process from 2004 to 2012, state officials and corporate "environmental" NGOs made sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast. The MLPA Initiative, a controversial "public-private partnership" between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF), was supposed to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

In an article published widely in June 2010, I warned that the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative don't protect the ocean from oil spills and pollution. (http://yubanet.com/...)

"These marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall, then the program director of the Institute for Fishery Resources and Commercial Fishermen of America. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"

MLPA Initiative advocates claimed that other state and federal laws and administrative actions "protect" the ocean from oil spills and new offshore oil drilling, so there was no need for specific bans or restrictions on oil industry activities in and near "marine protected areas."  

In violation of the provisions of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999, the "marine protected areas" failed to protect the ocean from oil spills, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.  

Of course, MLPA Initiative advocates neglected to address why Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento, was allowed to CHAIR the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and to sit on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/...)

They dismissed any questioning of why a Big Oil lobbyist was allowed to oversee "marine protection" in California as "wild conspiracy theories."

To make matters even worse, the WSPA President's husband, James Boyd, served on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012. From 2007 to 2012, he served as the Commission's Vice Chair, the second most powerful position on the Commission! (http://www.energy.ca.gov/...)  

However, as we can see from the current oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal regulatory agencies and the MLPA Initiative's so-called "marine protected areas" weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring - and the fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists who criticized oil industry lobbyist oversight of the MLPA Initiative process were absolutely right about their fears that the new "Yosemites of the Sea" wouldn't protect the ocean.

EcoUnionist News #49

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, May 26, 2015 (Image: Judi Bari stands defiant outside of the Oakland Federal Building, ca: 1996).

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Special Note: Due to the recent (voluntarily, fortunately) location of this site's main administrator, some of these stories are a little delayed. We apologize for any delay in timely reporting. Bear with us; we're all working class volunteers. ;-)

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

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An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

Gulf South Rising:

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1267-Watch:

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Museum Workers’ Union Condemns Oil Sponsorship of British Cultural Institutions

By Kyla Mandel - DeSmog UK, May 20, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Big Oil’s sponsorship of British museums and galleries must come to an end, argues the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) Culture Sector.

Delegates to the PCS annual conference in Brighton yesterday voted overwhelmingly to support a new union campaign calling for an end to oil sponsorship of the arts.

The union represents 5,000 workers in UK cultural institutions that have accepted money from BP or Shell, including Tate, the British Museum and National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Clara Paillard, president of the PCS Culture Sector, said: “We have taken an important step in calling for museums to move away from dirty sponsorship by oil and arms trade corporations.  

We believe these sponsorship deals and privatisation are two sides of the same coin: a capitalist model for arts and culture which we reject. Access to culture is a human right, and we will defend it.”

Growing Campaign

Over the past three years the campaign to end oil sponsorship in the arts has grown rapidly. Pressure from campaign groups, such as BP or not BP? and Liberate Tate, has led to the Southbank Centre ending Shell’s sponsorship of its ‘Classic International’ series.

And, most recently, an information tribunal ruling last December forced Tate to publish the sum of money BP paid as a sponsor between 1990 and 2006, along with details of internal decision-making on the controversial relationship.

Danny Chivers, an ‘actorvist’ from BP or not BP? speaking at the PCS conference, said: “Fossil fuel companies belong in the past, and their sullied logos have no place inside forward-looking publicly-funded museums and galleries.

We are committed to working towards a thriving culture sector, where staff have fair pay and conditions and are free to work for the benefit of the public rather than being forced to meet the interests of polluting companies and profiteering privatisers.”

The beginning of next year will see Tate, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House decide whether or not to renew their five-year sponsorship deals with BP.

EcoUnionist News #48

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 20, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

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May Day:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

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Just Transition:

1267-Watch:

Bread and Roses:

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EcoUnionist News #45

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 1, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

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Bread and Roses:

USW Refinery Strike:

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Just Transition:

1267-Watch:

Health and Safety:

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EcoUnionist News #44

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 26, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

1267-Watch:

Health and Safety:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

EcoUnionist News #43

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 19, 2015; image by Jon Flanders

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Carbon Bubble:

Health and Safety:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

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