Oil Industry Spent Millions On Lobbying As California Lawmakers Debated Cap-And-Trade Extension

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Oil Industry Spent Millions On Lobbying As California Lawmakers Debated Cap-And-Trade Extension

By Patrick McGreevy, LOS ANGELES TIMES


Corporations, unions and other interests spent $86.2 million on lobbying state government during the last quarter, with the oil industry leading the way as the Legislature approved an extension of California’s cap-and-trade program.

So far this year, $256 million has been spent lobbying state government, according to financial disclosure statements filed this week.

For the three-month period ending Sept. 30, the Western States Petroleum Assn. and Chevron were the top two spenders on lobbying, paying out $2.2 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

The period includes the July 17 vote by the Legislature on a bill to extend the cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, but on terms more favorable to oil companies than previous legislation.

The oil industry had opposed previous plans, but after heavy lobbying of lawmakers, the bill that emerged was “the best, most balanced way” for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the petroleum association.

The third-costliest lobbying effort during the quarter was by the California State Council of Service Employees, which spent $870,675 pushing its pro-worker positions on issues including the state’s budget and its response to threatened changes to the Affordable Care Act, conditions for home care workers and the standards for employees in a new state-sanctioned marijuana sales market.

The fourth-biggest spender was the California Chamber of Commerce, which spent $769,919 lobbying against 27 “job killer” bills it deemed unfriendly to business (only two survived), as well as on issues including the cap-and-trade bill that the chamber supported.

The next five top spenders on lobbying, in order, were Alameda County, the California Hospital Assn., NextGen Climate Action, Edison International and San Diego County. NextGen also supported the cap-and-trade plan.

The city of Los Angeles spent $616,207, making it the 11th-biggest spender on lobbying. City officials supported bills that included a measure requiring the state to cover deficit spending on Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Olympics.

Jamie Court, the president of Consumer Watchdog, said the millions spent by the oil industry paid them dividends because “they saved tens or hundreds of millions” by weakening the cap-and-trade system as it affects the oil industry. “The oil companies were the biggest winners in the Legislature this year,” Court said.

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