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And the Scummy goes to…

For lobbying its face off!

If you can count on anything, it’s WSPA (Western States Petroleum Association) throwing down some serious cash on lobbying. And this quarter was no exception. Let’s break down some Big Oil lobbying figures:
  • WSPA ranks #1 among lobbying spenders this session, paying $2.2 million to KP Public Affairs, the top-grossing lobbying firm in CA
  • WSPA has spent over $3 million so far in 2016, and $14 million since January 2015
  • Overall, the oil lobby has spent nearly $28 million to date in the 2015-16 legislative session
    • That’s an average of over $50,000 per day since January 1, 2015
    • And includes the $6.3 million in lobbying expenses reported so far in 2016 (over $1 million per month in 2016)
    • If you’re into math, that translates into Big Oil spending $39 per asthmatic child in California to deny their right to breath clean air
  • Chevron has spent $5.5 million so far in the 2015-16 session
    • Chevron ranks #5 among all lobbyists in the current session
If there is any doubt that lobbying equals real influence, look no further than SB32, a bill setting a 40 percent emissions reduction target below 1990 levels by 2030, which may be punted into the next legislative session - despite the fact that a majority of California voters support strong climate policies.

Smoke and mirrors won’t clean the air

The South Coast air basin — Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties — has a long way to go before the air is safe to breathe. In fact, the region has never met healthy smog standards under the Clean Air Act and that has real impacts. In the air basin, there are 120,000 asthma attacks and 5,000 premature deaths due to poor air quality each year. So you’d think that the South Coast Air Quality Management District would be all over this. Instead, the oil-friendly board submitted a plan that will weaken clean air rules and fall back on taxpayer-funded incentive programs.

CA’s Meth(ane) Problem

Once upon a time, we thought natural gas would bridge us from old, dirty forms of energy — like coal — to clean energy — like solar and wind. But we found a problem: we’re really bad at producing, moving, and holding natural gas without leaking. And when natural gas leaks, it releases methane. And the results aren’t pretty. 

In recent weeks, concerned residents living near oil and gas wells appeared before the California Air Resources Board to testify that the state needs tougher standards for methane pollution. The board voted to proceed with the strengthened methane rule, which is on track to be finalized in January. A public comment period will begin this fall.

SFC launched the first of six videos this week that break down the problem. Up first: The Climate. Watch it here
Help us spread the word

Wait, we’re giving the oil industry how much?

Oil companies are subsidized to the tune of $4 billion a year in the United States (don’t get us started on how that makes us feel). Big Oil says eliminating that subsidy would ruin everything. But a new study (not done by the oil industry) finds that in reality, it would be pretty painless.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

California’s climate policies are working. New data finds that meeting California’s 2020 GHG emissions goal will be easier and cheaper than expected. Low demand at the last two cap-and-trade auctions is not an indicator of the state’s climate program failure –it actually shows that California’s other climate and energy policies are lowering emissions so effectively, they're reducing the need for cap-and-trade allowances.

Big Oil Oopsies

Two workers have been injured in a crude oil explosion that led to a huge fire in Ventura County. The burning tank is said to hold up to 1,700 gallons of oil, so this one will probably be going for awhile. Good thing California doesn’t have any problems with wildfire.
In the last two weeks in Louisiana, three different oil companies managed to dump oil into water sources, with a grand total of 9,250 gallons spilled.          

Remember that time the Chevron Refinery in Richmond caught on fire?

So does the state. Four years after a massive fire at the Chevron refinery sent thousands of people to area hospitals, the state is considering new regulations for oil refineries that, if enacted, could be among the toughest in the country.

Crazy Train

LTE: Voting to approve the Phillips 66 rail spur proposal is a vote to ignore the safety of San Luis Obispo communities. The only way to ensure SLO is safe from the damage of an oil train derailment is to not have oil trains.
The Pacific Northwest is voicing strong concern about the frequency of oil train derailments. Big Oil’s comment on the matter? Derailments are only making us safer, by providing an opportunity to make upgrades. So how many explosions, fires, and casualties will it take for the system to be working safely then, Big Oil?

Environmental racism

There’s a term for when communities of color are exposed to more environmental burdens because hazardous operations are more frequently permitted in their neighborhoods. It's environmental racism. And the oil and gas industry is really good at it.   
The director of Detroit's Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, breaks down environmental racism in an interview: “The over-reliance on fossil fuels, particularly in a region where industry is quite heavy, can have a disproportionate burden on the poor and vulnerable in those areas. Whether it’s particulate matter in the air, or a pollutant that goes into the soil or any other pollutants that are released, these are all problems that have consequences on our health.”

Front Group Alert!

The “Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class” is 100 percent funded by Big Oil, with Chevron, Valero Energy, Tesoro Corp. and California Resources Corp. footing the $5.5 million bill. Over $1.6 million of that has been spent on California political races. Specifically, this 100 percent astroturf group has put more money towards candidate Cheryl Brown than all of her direct contributions combined.
Big Oil, their BFF’s the Koch Brothers, and other fossil fuel interests have given $2.4 million this legislative cycle to the Republican Attorneys General Association, a political group supporting attorneys general that, among other things, seek to block some environmental policies.
Temperatures, sea levels and carbon dioxide all hit milestones amid extreme weather in 2015, major international ‘state of the climate’ report finds.
In 2010, a natural gas pipeline explosion killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in the Bay Area. The fine for the responsible utility (PG&E) was just reduced from $562 million to $6 million with no explanation.
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