“Oil Money Out” targets Governor Jerry Brown for week of action

  • Published on June 29th, 2017

As most of you know, I have been extremely passionate for several years about the need to get Big Oil out of California politics, ranging from the Governor’s Office, to the Legislature, to marine protection and other coastal protection panels.

By Dan Bacherbig oil influence

I have written hundreds of articles exposing how oil companies and the Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful oil lobbying group in Sacramento, have captured the regulatory apparatus from top to bottom.

Fortunately, increasing numbers of Californians are waking up to the inordinate role that Big Oil plays in California, a state that has ironically been portrayed as the nation’s “green leader” by the mainstream media.

On May 20, a  new grassroots group, Oil Money Out, held a successful march in Sacramento to protest the huge role that Big Oil has in California politics — and to urge elected officials and candidates to refuse to take money from oil industry.

Will you make the call?  Click here:  https://www.oilmoneyout.com/take-action/

One of the highlights of the event was when a creative group of activists held a mock “tug of war’” between the people of California and the oil industry for the loyalty of Governor Jerry Brown  in front of the Sacramento Convention Center where the Democratic Convention was being held that day,

On the left, people pulled an activist wearing a giant papier mache Jerry Brown “head” towards them with the rope. Then others tug of war between the people and big oil for Jerry Brown's soulrepresenting oil industry executives, dressed in white shirts and gray ties right next to a big oil barrel emblazoned with “Big Oil $,” tugged “Jerry Brown” in their direction. The “tug of war” took place for around 20 minutes, with neither side winning.

The skit depicted the contradiction between Jerry Brown the “climate leader,” who appeals to his Democratic base by preaching against climate change and for green energy, and the other guy, “Big Oil Brown,” who supports the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the Delta Tunnels — and has received millions in contributions from the oil and energy industries.

But the tug of war was over more than just over the loyalty of Jerry Brown, torn between the people and the oil industry. It was, on a deeper level, about California’s contradictory role as an “environmental leader” with some good laws, on one hand, and then its role as the nation’s third biggest oil producer, with some of the dirtiest air and waterways in the country, on the other hand. You can read a photo essay about the event here: www.indybay.org/…

“The event was a huge success, and already we’re hearing that our legislators are getting the message that Californians want oil money out of politics,” said David Braun, Rootskeeper for #OilMoneyOut, in an action alert today.

“And they’re beginning to get the message that there is science on the books which was paid for by California Taxpayers which shows how oil operations – including urban drilling and using oil wastewater to irrigate crops – are often toxic.   These scientists even made recommendations to protect Californians from these practices, but meanwhile the oil industry spent $36 million last year lobbying our state leaders to ensure that their toxic enterprise continues,” said Braun

“This week, we are doubling down and hosting a Week of Action to generate calls to our elected officials in California to urge them to stop taking money from Big Oil! Today and throughout the rest of the week, we are asking you to call Governor Jerry Brown and your state legislators to tell them to stop taking dirty oil money,” Braun urged.

Will you make the call?  Click here:  https://www.oilmoneyout.com/take-action/

In another action alert issued today, RL Miller, Chair of the Environmental Caucus of the California Democratic Party, pointed out the contradiction between Jerry Brown, “climate leader,” and Jerry Brown, “the stenographer for Chevron.”

Brown, who has received over $9.8 million in contributions for oil companies and the energy industry, has become infamous for his close relationship to Big Oil and for the many fossil fuel industry folks that he has appointed to key staff and regulatory panel positions since he began his third term as governor in January 2011.


I urge you to join Miller’s call to action – Click here to tell Gov. Jerry Brown: Stop acting as Chevron’s stenographer in negotiating climate laws. 

Reference: In These Times, EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Documents Show Jerry Brown Giving Big Oil a Seat in Drafting Climate Policy

Below is some background information on how Big Oil has become such a powerful force in California politics. I urge you to read this, if you’re not already aware of this alarming information.

This is a revised transcript of a speech I gave at the end of the Changefest rally held on the north steps of the State Capitol on January 21 and at a Sacramento Climate Coalition meeting in Sacramento on February 4:

Background: California oil lobby tops spending in 2015-16 session with $36.1 million

In spite of California’s reputation as a “green leader, Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.

As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.

The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an  American Lung Association report. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session.

Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.

In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.

The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.

To read the complete report, go to: www.lung.org/…;

Western States Petroleum Association: Sacramento’s most powerful corporate lobbying group

Although the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in the West and California, its enormous influence appears to be one of our state’s best-kept secrets. It has spent more than other lobbying organization in Sacramento in recent years to exert control over the Governor’s Office, regulatory agencies and the State Legislature.

Big Oil, along with Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Timber and other corporate interests, dominate politics in California, as well as in Washington, D.C., as evidenced by President’s Donald Trump’s nomination of EXXON CEO Rex Tilleson as Secretary of State,  Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and other oil and energy corporation shills to his cabinet. The appointment of oil industry officials and their allies to California regulatory panels has been standard practice in California for many years.

The Western States Petroleum Association 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 California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.

WSPA’s membership includes a who’s who oil, energy and pipeline corporations including Aera Energy LLC, Chevron, Californian Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Noble Energy, Inc., Phillips 66, Plains All American, Inc. Shell Oil Products US, Tesoro Refining and Marketing and Valero.

From January 1, 2009 to November 8, 2016 alone, the oil industry spent $112,371,214 on lobbying expenses in California, according to a report, “The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy.” The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Sydney Office produced the report, in collaboration with a coalition of conservation, consumer and environmental justice groups.

The Western States Petroleum Association led the oil industry lobbying expenses with $49,491,104 during this period, followed by Chevron with $24,035,901 and Phillips 66 with $4,821,144. For more information, go to: www.counterpunch.org/…

The five ways Big Oil exerts its influence

WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: and (5) working in collaboration with media.

Big Oil and other corporate advocates have dominated appointments to Commissions and regulatory panels in California under Governors Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, ranging from the Department of Conservation, to the California Public Utilities Commission, to the California Energy Commission, to the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force.

In a classic case of the “fox guarding the hen house, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 at the same the oil industry was fracking South Coast ocean waters. Reheis-Boyd, appointed by Schwarzenegger, also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast, and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

It gets worse. Reheis-Boyd’s husband, James D. Boyd, first appointed by Governor Davis, sat on on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2/2007 to 1/2012.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) in September 2016 opened an investigation into the California Democratic Party in response to a report by a prominent consumer group, Consumer Watchdog, claiming that the party acted as a “laundry machine” to funnel donations from oil, energy and utility companies to Brown’s 2014 election campaign.

In the “Brown’s Dirty Hands” report, Consumer Watchdog revealed that that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor for his third term. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million

“Occidental’s attorney, former Governor Gray Davis, successfully pressured Brown to fire two oil and gas regulators who wouldn’t grant oil waste injection permits without proof that aquifers would not be contaminated,” according to the group. “Two months later, when Brown’s new interim oil and gas supervisor granted Occidental a permit without an environmental review, Occidental contributed $250,000 to Prop 30, Brown’s ballot measure to raise taxes, then another $100,000 two weeks later to his favored Oakland Military Institute. Seven months later, Occidental made a second $250,000 donation to Prop 30.”

You can download “Brown’s Dirty Hands” at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands

More recently on February 6,  twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, unveiled a comprehensive report card on the Brown Administration’s environmental record revealing that he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including fossil fuel generated electricity, oil drilling, and coastal protection.  Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/isbrowngreen

There is no doubt that Big Oil and other corporate interests dominate politics in California and Washington — and that we must relentlessly work to get Big Oil out of politics by supporting efforts like the Move to Amend, movetoamend.org, and the California Clean Money Campaign, www.caclean.org.


About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.