Big Oil Spent More on California Lobbying in First 6 months of 2017 Than In All of 2016

Published on

Big Oil Spent More on California Lobbying in First 6 months of 2017 Than In All of 2016


November 21, 2017

The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and other publications have touted Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials as the “resistance” to Donald Trump’s pro-oil industry policies in recent articles, but the reality on the ground is much different.

In fact, the oil industry in the single largest corporate lobby in Sacramento — and dominates spending on lobbying every legislative session. Every bill opposed by the oil industry with the exception of one has failed to pass out of the Legislature over the past three years, due to the gusher of Big Oil lobbying money.

The oil industry spent more on lobbying in California, $16,360,618, in the first six months of 2017 than was spent by the industry in all of 2016, $16.0 million. 

This translates to an average of $2.7 million per month – $90,000 per day – since Jan. 1, 2017, according to a report compiled and written by William Barrett of the Lung Association in California. Over the past ten years, oil lobbying in California has topped $150 million.

Chevron ranks #1 among all lobbyist spenders in the current session with $7.1 million spent in first six months of 2017, compared to $3 million total in 2016.

Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), normally the largest spender of all lobbying organizations, was the 2nd overall spender in the first two quarters of 2017 with $3.9 million spent.

Furthermore, oil money ranked #1-3 among all California lobbyist spending from January through June 2017, with Chevron spending $7,130,322, WSPA $3,916,353 and Tesoro $2,452,913.

“Of the $16.4 million spent this session, Chevron, WSPA, Tesoro and Valero collectively disbursed $8.8 million to the ‘Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy (CARE) Coalition,’” the report noted. “Of that $8.8 million, the CARE Coalition spent approximately $1.3 million as of June 30, 2017 on climate policy lobbying according to the most recent disclosure data.” 

To read the full report, go to:…

The gusher of oil money to influence California officials continued from July through September. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, spent $2,290,408.89 in the third quarter of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session to promote Big Oil’s agenda in California, topping all over organizations in lobbying expenses and regaining it’s position from Chevron.

Chevron dished out the second largest amount of any organization in the third quarter, with $1.1 million spent last quarter.

The third biggest spender during the third quarter was the California State Council of Service Employees with $870,675 spent, while the fourth largest was the California Chamber of Commerce with $769,919 in lobbying expenses. 

WSPA and Chevron used their millions to push through Governor Jerry Brown’s cap and trade legislation, AB 398, a bill that was based on a WSPA and Chevron “wish list,” and to defeat SB 188, legislation to block new oil drilling off the California coast.

Governor Brown and legislators celebrated the passage of AB 398 as a  “historic climate victory,” while over 65 environmental justice, conservation and public interest organizations slammed the bill because of the devastating impact they said it will have on front line communities, the people of California and our air and water.

Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch, revealed that the controversial bill gives loopholes and tax breaks to corporate polluters that could actually result in more, not less, emissions.

“The bill, heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry, makes California’s flawed cap-and-trade system worse by allowing excessive allowances to pollute and preventing local regulation of greenhouse gases,” said Scow. “The climate crisis demands that the State regulate and reduce pollution quickly, but this bill gives polluters loopholes and tax breaks that could result in increased emissions. California’s cap-and-trade system cannot be considered a model for any state or nation that takes the climate crisis seriously.”

WSPA and Chevron also used the money to defeat Senate Bill 188, a bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to prohibit new pipelines or other infrastructure needed to support new federal oil and gas development. 

Jointly authored by Senate Leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), SB 188 would protect the California coast by “prohibiting the State Lands Commission from approving any new leases for pipelines, piers, wharves, or other infrastructure needed to support new federal oil and gas development in the three mile area off the coast that is controlled by the state.”

Senator Jackson introduced SB 188 in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order opening the door to expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the California coast. The defeat of SB 188 is a big victory for the oil industry and the Trump administration — and proves the hollowness of California’s highly touted image as the nation’s “green leader,” as constantly promoted by mainstream media and state officials.

Ironically, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, who led the oil industry effort to defeat the bill to protect the coast from offshore oil drilling, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California. She also served on the MLPA task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The “marine protected areas” created under Reheis-Boyd’s helm fail to protect the ocean from offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. Yet MLPA advocates cynically promoted the questionable process to create “marine protected areas” under the oil lobbyist leadership as “open, transparent and inclusive.”

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

While Brown portrays himself as a “climate leader,” he has in fact been one of the biggest advocates of Big Oil’s agenda in the Governor’s Office in recent decades. Brown received over $9.8 million in contributions from oil, gas and utility companies, often within days of winning big political favors, according to Consumer Watchdog’s “Brown’s Dirty Hands” report released in August 2016.

“The timing of energy industry donations around important legislation and key pro-industry amendments, as well as key regulatory decisions in which Brown personally intervened, raises troubling questions about whether quid pro quos are routine for this administration,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker, report author. “While Brown paints himself as a foe of fossil fuels, his Administration promoted reckless oil drilling, burning dirty natural gas to make electricity, and used old hands from industry and government, placed in key regulatory positions, to protect the fossil fuel-reliant energy industry.”

The report claims 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. You can download the report here: 

Background: Big Oil spent $36.1 million lobbying in 2015-16 session

The California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million on lobbying over the two-year period. Based on the oil industry lobbying over the past two quarters, it looks like the industry may set a new spending record this session.

Big Oil spending last session amounted to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. To read the complete report, go to:

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 last session. In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials.

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

The only bill opposed by the oil industry that made it out of the legislature to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown was Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The reason for the bill’s passage was because billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation Climate Action spent  $7.3 million lobbying for the bill in the seventh quarter of the session.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent over $150 million in lobbying in California when you include the figures for the first two quarters of 2017.

For more information, go to…

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases