Mendocino County Today: November 20, 2013
by AVA News Service, November 20, 2013
THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION, meeting in Newport Beach last week, denied the appeal of the Ten Mile Dunes project sponsored by State Parks. The project, to remove a 2.5 mile remnant section of the old Union Lumber Company/Georgia Pacific haul road north of Ward Avenue and south of the Ten Mile River bridge, was originally approved by the Coastal Permit Administrator and appealed to the County Board of Supes by the Westport Municipal Advisory Council. The Supes denied the appeal on a 3-2 vote with Supervisors Gjerde and Brown opposed. The appellants maintain that the project will reduce access, especially for people who can't walk in soft sand. Except there is currently no way to get to the storm damaged sections of the haul road, especially on the south end, without walking across sand, lots of it. State Parks says the project will restore 200 acres of habitat for the Western Snowy Plover, an endangered shore bird that nests on the open beach above the high tide line.
COASTAL COMMISSION staff made a finding of “No substantial issue” which meant that the project was consistent with the Local Coastal Plan and there was really nothing to talk about. The finding of no substantial issue also meant that the appellant and the applicant were each limited to three minutes to make their respective cases. The appeal to the Coastal Commission was brought by the odd couple of Thad Van Buren, Chair of the Westport MAC, and Stan Anderson, something of an endangered species himself, by virtue of his status as a Republican in pseudo-liberal Mendoland. Coastal Commission staff took a few minutes to review the case, complete with a PowerPoint presentation to show the old haul road buried in sand at one end and crumbling into the sea at the other. Van Buren and Anderson, who made the trek all the way to Newport Beach, were advised by the Chair that they had three minutes to make their case, and that “you can divide those three minutes any way you like.” Van Buren took the three minutes to say the haul road is an existing coastal trail, doesn't interfere with sand migration, doesn't interfere with snowy plover movement, is not heavily used (but somehow keeps people out of plover habitat), and finally, that removal of the haul road will reduce access for people who can't slog through the sand. A State Parks rep took his three minutes to say they enthusiastically agreed with the staff recommendation to deny the appeal, and that the project will “maximize public access consistent with the protection of sensitive habitat.” Which means State Parks will do everything they can to keep people out of the area.
A MOTION TO DENY THE APPEAL was quickly put on the floor. One commissioner asked the State Parks rep about public access, which resulted in a somewhat rambling and contradictory explanation. State Parks says everyone can walk on the existing wet sand beach without any prob. Except removal of the haul road remnant will take out culverts that provide an all weather crossing for two creeks that might become impassable during winter storm events. Parks says if that happens, they will come back and build “structures” out of “native material” to bridge the streams and put up signs telling beachgoers where the structures are. There was no followup question. The Chair then asked if there was “any unwillingness for a unanimous yes vote” and hearing none, the vote was recorded as unanimous. With that, the appeal was over and done in 15 minutes leaving Van Buren and Anderson to face the long drive back home. And State Parks got the permission to remove the remnant segment of the Haul Road.
ELECTIONS OFFICER SUE RANOCHAK, like her predecessor Marsha Wharf, deflects criticism of the elimination of polling places and forced vote-by-mail balloting by claiming it saves money and improves voter turnout. Based on the recent school board and special district elections, which saw voter participation at less than 25%, it is hard to make the case for improved turnout. But with few ballots to process it's a money saver for sure. But we remain nostalgic for the time when there was an actual “election day” culminating in a trip to the polls complete with elderly neighbors checking your name against the voting rolls and handing out ballots. And the interim tallying on the big chalkboard in the lobby of the County Courthouse where the County's politically minded gathered to watch. Everything that makes community is gradually slipping away.
ANOTHER ADVANTAGE OF ELECTION DAY, as it once existed, was that except for the closest races, the results were known that evening instead of several weeks in the future. But there were so few votes in this election, and therefore fewer uncounted election day votes, that final results were released in just over a week. With one exception, which we will get to shortly, there were no real surprises.
AS EXPECTED, Carolyn Barrett, backed by the teacher's lobby (and every school administrator to serve in the last 40 years) crushed independent challenger Michael Weidner for an open seat on the Ukiah Unified School District board. A pillar of Weidner's campaign seemed to be that his child went to a more prestigious college than his opponent's child, which seemed to say, “My kid is smarter than her kid, therefore I must be smarter than her.” Weidner, who was a no-show at the only candidate's forum, was doomed from the start since he was critical of both the teachers and the administration. Barrett had a lock on the race, but her campaign still went all out, with mailings and numerous expensive ads in the local paper. The message is clear: no one will ever be elected to the UUSD board without the support of the teacher's lobby. In Mendocino County, as in the rest of the country, school apparats elect their school boards and supervise themselves.
IN THE POINT ARENA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, the “school community” circled the wagons to make sure Susan Rush would not be elected. Rush, a perennial candidate, is also the only person to ever question the perennially questionable south coast school administration. Rush recently blew the whistle on a blatant Brown Act violation where Admin distributed and discussed a taxpayer funded report to the school board, but refused to make copies of it available to the public, namely Ms. Rush. The worst nightmare of any public school educrat is that someone willing to question their actions might get elected to the school board.
IN THE WILLITS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT race, Laurie Harris and Cynthia Carni remained the top vote-getters, but Bob Harper, who was ahead on election night by three votes, was overtaken by Chris Neary who won by 19 votes after all the votes were tallied. Neary, a local attorney, is legal counsel for the Brooktrails Community Services District, the North Coast Railroad Authority and Millview County Water District, all of whom are embroiled in expensive lawsuits with Neary being the chief beneficiary as he racks up the billable hours. Neary and Jared Carter recently offered to represent Mendocino County if the Board of Supes had gone along with Supervisor Pinches' initiative to take on the Sonoma County Water Agency. Which may be the best argument we've heard not to go along with Pinches' otherwise sensible plan to seek justice for Mendocino County, which sits idly by, while Sonoma County rakes in the profits of selling “surplus” Mendocino County water to its own thousands of customers and downstream to Marin County, all while enjoying the benefits of a nearly full Lake Sonoma, as Lake Mendocino shrinks to a mud hole.
SPEAKING OF BROOKTRAILS, the three incumbents on that Community Services District Board of Directors were easily returned to office, with career officeholder Tony Orth the top vote-getter. Which means that the Brooktrails board of directors will continue to struggle to provide basic services, while at the same time ignoring a gold mine that looms before their eyes. Supervisor Pinches has frequently made the point that the 2,000+ acres of Brooktrails “greenbelt,” largely consisting of second growth redwood forest, could be selectively and sustainably harvested (in a way that would hardly be noticed) in order to provide more than enough revenue to fully fund the fire department and eliminate the need for future sewer and water rate increases. But Orth is firmly stuck in “Timber Wars” mode, which equates all logging with corporate greed, corruption, clearcutting, herbicide use, and the destruction of life as we know it. So far the Brooktrails voters show no signs of realizing that by electing Orth they are guaranteeing that Brooktrails will continue to struggle to provide basic services and will keep coming back to them for rate increases.
MILLVIEW COUNTY WATER DISTRICT north of Ukiah saw the election of a husband and wife team, incumbent Ken Budrow and his wife Jeanne Metcalf. Incumbent Jerry Cardoza was also handily re-elected. The push to elect Metcalf was precipitated by the decision of another incumbent to step down and the need to prevent an outsider (who might ask embarrassing questions) from getting elected. Which also means that if Mr. Budrow or Ms. Metcalf discuss an issue of Millview biz with another director, it will be an instant Brown Act violation.
ANOTHER LOCAL BOARD seeking to avoid controversy is the Ukiah Valley Fire District where Allen Cherry edged out conservative inland political gadfly Lee Howard. The Fire District is currently in the process of merging with the City of Ukiah Fire Department, which it split off from 25 years ago. Howard was the driving force in the divorce back then and said he had “a few questions” about the effort to reunify the departments. The kind of questions that probably no one in authority wants to answer. Least of all the City of Ukiah, which is seeking to lowball the Fire District for providing a full service fire department to the city, while still charging $1.5 million in admin fees to administer a department that no longer exists.
BUT THE RUSSIAN RIVER FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT may have had the biggest stake in avoiding controversy. Incumbents Richard Shoemaker, Judy Hatch and Paul Zellman were all up for re-election and were being challenged by Frank McMichael who has worn many hats since moving up here from L.A. a quarter century ago. McMichael retired on “disability” from the LA County Sheriff's Office, where he hurt his back, but not so badly that he couldn't work as a construction contractor once he retired to Mendocino County. McMichael then got elected Second District County Supervisor, serving one term before being defeated by Richard Shoemaker. McMichael immediately lucked into the obscure but lucrative position as Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) Executive Director (ED) where he served for nearly 15 years before he was forced out in a contract dispute.
ANNEXATIONS MUST BE APPROVED BY LAFCO, but since annexation almost never happens in Mendocino County, LAFCOs only real duty for the last 10 years has been approval of Municipal Service Reviews (MSRs) which are supposed to evaluate the ability of cities and special districts to provide their services. McMichael's contract with LAFCO required him to complete the MSRs. Only they weren't getting done. And no one on the LAFCO Board, (like the other alphabet soup agencies that exist as a sinecure for the executive director — MCOG, NCRA, MCOE and MTA come immediately to mind) — was paying attention. So McMichael, who was already getting paid $100,000 a year as LAFCO ED, slipped in another contract for another $60,000 to do the job (complete the MSRs) that he already wasn't doing. There are four cities and about 50 special districts in Mendocino County. LAFCO, under McMichael's guidance, was doing about one or two MSRs a year. Which means it would take at least 25 years to complete them all. Except state law said they had to all be done by 2008, and updated every five years thereafter. Once McMichael's double dipping was exposed, he quietly agreed to resign rather than face a messy showdown for breach of contract.
RICHARD SHOEMAKER, having previously defeated McMichael for County Supe, managed to get himself elected to the LAFCO board of directors as an adjunct to his service on the Russian River Flood District board of directors. And supported by his pal, current Second District Supe John McCowen, Shoemaker got elected Chair of the LAFCO board just in time to preside over the forced resignation of his old political rival, McMichael, who has since gone on the attack against his former agency. McMichael recently wrote an angry denunciation of LAFCO for using public money to sponsor a “water forum” to discuss water delivery in the Ukiah Valley. For one thing, LAFCO was asking the wrong question, since the problem with water (as a glance at Lake Mendo shows) is lack of supply, not how it gets delivered. McMichael's letter had a laundry list of other complaints about the water forum, including alleged Brown Act violations.
BUT MCMICHAEL, after being forced out at LAFCO, came up roses again, landing the position of District Manager of the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District (UVSD) just after his forced departure from LAFCO. (Say what you will about the guy, he's no dummy.) Enter the City of Ukiah, which had sparred with McMichael for years over who to blame for the lack of an MSR for Ukiah, which needs an approved MSR before it can annex territory, including from the Sanitation District. And the Sanitation District has been locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with the City of Ukiah for several years over just about everything. Not that McMichael was out to settle any grudges, but it just so happens that within a year after taking the job as District Manager, the Sanitation District is suing the City of Ukiah for a cool $28 million, alleging a host of financial improprieties going back decades. The Ukiah City Attorney has written a letter (see Letters to the Editor) complaining that the lawsuit will drive higher costs onto all the ratepayers, city and district, and prevent re-financing $75 million worth of bonded indebtedness incurred to build the new sewer treatment plant. The Sanitation District also wants the City to hand over control of the sewer plant, currently owned and operated by the City.
AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND, former Supe, former LAFCO ED and current UVSD District Manager McMichael, billing himself as a “water advocate,” threw his hat in the ring for Russian River Flood Control District board of directors against the three incumbents, including former Supe and current LAFCO Chair Shoemaker. The other two incumbents aren't particularly well known and didn't bother to show up for the only election forum. So it was no real surprise on election night when McMichael finished third, coming in 30 votes ahead of incumbent Paul Zellman. Political insiders were relishing the anticipated clash of two old rivals, Shoemaker and McMichael, with no love lost between them, sitting on the same obscure board. But it was not to be, as the final returns showed Zellman overtaking McMichael to eke out a win with a final edge of nine votes. And nobody was more relieved at the outcome than Shoemaker.
DOUG McKENTY was suspended from hosting KZYX's Open Lines because a nut or a sab called in an f-bomb. That somehow was McKenty's fault, concluded the station's two-person management team of John Coate and Mary Aigner. McKenty got a grievance hearing the other day, which was heard by, ta-da, Coate and Aigner, the local equivalent of a hearing before Stalin and Beria. The programmer-elected representative to the Board, Stuart Campbell, sat in on McKenty's trial. It looks like the station will only restore “Open Lines” to the broadcast schedule with a seven second-delay which does not now exist, but the management apparatus has talked about getting a delay-machine. Coate now insists on rotating hosts for the show, so, if and when the delay machine is obtained, presumably Doug McKenty will get to do the show every once in a while, and in between a nuzzlebum of Coate and Aig's choosing.
McKENTY will soon be organizing meetings, both on the coast and inland, to recruit a core of people interested in the campaign season for the next Board elections — he wants to recruit both candidates and their supporters. If McKenty can find three candidates willing to advocate for membership control of station policy — and enough supporters to elect them — Mendocino might at last lift the Coate-Aigner curse.
SPEAKING of media, we all much enjoyed this sentence in Chuck Nevius's column in Tuesday's Chronicle: “As an unbiased observer with no background in the culinary properties of tube steaks, I would say that the stand had the best hot dogs in the city.”
ALTERNATIVES TO HILLARY? Certainly not Joe Biden who offers nothing different. Progressives will have to bestir themselves from their complacency and wishful thinking if they are to restore themselves as a force in national politics. Why is there not a movement to promote the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts and the staunchest advocate of serious financial reform in her capacity as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). She had been a Professor at the Harvard Law School. Warren is a person who stands out in the Washington environment for her conviction, her guts and her brains. The first two have been sorely lacking among self-styled progressive Democrats. That is what attracts people; that is what scares other people — including Hillary Clinton. Warren is becoming the repository of honest liberals’ beliefs and hopes that the Democratic Party can free itself from the fatal embrace of moneyed interests. She herself is a proven money raiser — indeed, the only Democrat who can do so without compromising herself. — Michael Brenner
JEFF COSTELLO WRITES: My uncle Art had a baseball signed by the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Jim Gilliam, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Carl Furillo, Jackie Robinson. Johnny Podres, Don Zimmer, Sandy Koufax. The ball looked brand new, untouched. The year was after all, 1955. Art was my mother's brother and lived in Flatbush. He took me to Ebbets Field to see that team play the Cincinnati Redlegs. A vendor walked up and down the stands selling beer. “Getcha beah heah, getcha beah heah!” Next was the guy with the hot peanuts. We sat behind home plate, ten or fifteen rows up. Every time a Dodger came up to bat, Art would yell his name and shout something encouraging. He was a real honest-to-goodness fanatic baseball fan. And he actually knew some of the players. He called Jim Gilliam “Junior.” What I remember most, besides my uncle's enthusiasm, is the color of the grass, the Dodgers' blue caps, and the Cincinnati team's red hats and stockings. The name had been changed from just “Reds” thanks to Joe McCarthy and anti-communist hysteria of the time. I don't recall any big plays or home runs, and the game was called when it began raining in the fifth inning. It was more curiosity than excitement for me, and a nice gesture for Art to take his sister's kid to a game. It was the only pro sports game I've ever been to. Three years later the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, and I realized later, I'd witnessed a bit of history close up. I had these players and the Mickey Mantle-era Yankees on baseball cards and I can only imagine what they would be worth now. The signed baseball is another matter. I've never been in touch with my cousins and have no idea what happened to it.
I WAS HEADED west on the 2 Clement after watching a very good film called the Dallas Buyer's Club. It's based on the true life story of an aggressive homophobe called Ron Woodroof (brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughey) who himself contracted AIDS from a couple of female floozies. He initially assumes that AIDS is strictly confined to homosexual men, and his friends forever after assume he's a closet case, as his gradual education to full humanity commences and Woodroof becomes a hero to gays by fighting and defeating the DEA, smuggling the first effective AIDS drugs in from Mexico.
THAT BUS TRIP, incidentally, featured a memorably creepy passenger, a guy I pegged to be about 40 who wore hospital scrubs and a purple stocking cap pulled down over his face to just above his mouth, which he maintained the whole trip in an ominous, Joker-like smile. Any SF Muni car that's more than half full contains at least one obvious lunatic. This man was our designee. I assumed from his scrubs that he'd walked out of a psych ward and was now getting his jollies scaring old ladies with his masked, mirthless, rictor-mouthed grin, and it was old ladies he was interested in, getting up several times to change seats so he could bum out another one. Thing is, El Creepo got off at California and Laurel and walked briskly on into the hospital. I guess he works there, probably as an anesthesiologist.
ONE MARINELA MICLEA recently posted this comment on the Mendocino Coast Listserve: “Title: Is there a local mafia in Mendo/FB? — I guess I've been clueless so far, but it's beginning to dawn on me that the lack of discussion of local issues on the Mendo listserv, local newspapers, or local radio stations must be due to a pervasive fear of potential consequences — losing one's job? Or getting hassled by police or DA? I'm picking up little hints of trouble here or there, but nothing substantial is being discussed openly. Is it time to call in the FBI? The dearth of local issues being discussed is what concerns me. Hearing that a local reporter is too scared to name names when he experiences “automotive troubles.” Being warned privately against giving details when I experienced a trespassing issue. Hearing of a Mendo landlord refusing to renew the lease of a popular restaurant, thus forcing its closure, only to turn around and give that lease to a different restaurateur with no explanation. Asking whether there's a high turn-over rate at a local restaurant only to be accused of disparaging it. Being threatened privately that I don't know who I'm dealing with because that person claims to be the DA's best friend. Reminds me of the pervasive fear of being overheard saying anything that might sound negative in the communist country of my childhood — blech! Personally, I don't have huge issues right now. I've a job that pays the bills and allows me to spread some $$ around at local restaurants, stores, and charities. I like most of my neighbors and people I've met in the community. My kids go to local schools and participate in local events, and I'm glad to see them flourishing in this community. But every now and then I get a niggling suspicion that not all's well around here. I've never been a fan of mafia movies/books — just don't see the fascination of watching/reading gangsters getting all warm and fuzzy with their families/opera only to turn around and kill whenever the urge strikes. I'm also not a pothead (never used it, just don't see the point) though I'm OK with you/others doing it (just not at my place). Re. “backcountry paupers” — not all around here are poor, as I'm sure you're aware. How do places like MacCallum House Inn stay in business? Its income doesn't derive solely from tourists even though its prices are so high (I ate there a while back — $100+ tab just for an adult and 2 kids). — Marinela (no Dragon Lady — maybe just the canary in the mine?)
BRING ‘EM TO THE AVA, Ms. Miclea. We’re here to help.
BY THE TIME THE BUGGY REACHED BEERSHORN, which was a good seven miles from Howling, Adam had forgotten what he was going there for. The reins lay between his knotted fingers, and his face, unseeing, was lifted to the dark sky. From the stubborn interwoven strata of his sub-conscious, thoughts seeped up into his dim conscious; not as an integral part of that consciousness, but more as an impalpable emanation, a crepuscular addition, from the unsleeping life in the restless trees and fields surrounding him. The country for miles, under the blanket of the dark which brought no peace, was in its annual tortured ferment of spring growth; worm jarred with worm and seed with seed. Frond leapt on root and hare on hare. Beetle and finch-fly were not spared. The trout-sperm in the muddy hollow under Nettle-Flitch Weir were agitated, and well they might be. The long screams of the hunting owls tore across the night, scarlet lines on black. In the pauses, every ten minutes, they mated. It seemed chaotic, but it was more methodically arranged than you might think. But Adam's deafness and blindness came from within as well as without; earthy calm seeped up from his sub-conscious and and met descending calm in his conscious. Twice the buggy was pulled out of hedges by a passing farm-hand, and once narrowly shaved the vicar, driving home from tea at The Hall.
—Stella Gibbons, 1932; from “Cold Comfort Farm”
JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: Ellen Brown will be speaking in Willits at the Little Lake Grange Saturday, December 14, at 7 pm, and in Mendocino at Crown Hall, Sunday, December 15, at 7pm. See: http://ellenbrown.com. firstname.lastname@example.org is the contact for Mendocino. email@example.com is the contact for Willits. There is a grassroots movement here in Mendocino County to change our form of government to a “charter county” that would allow for public banking, i.e., a county bank.
OIL COMPANY FINED $60,000 FOR ILLEGALLY DISCHARGING FRACKING FLUID
by Dan Bacher
The oil industry in California has constantly claimed that fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas is "safe" and doesn't harm the environment.
"An honest appraisal of the science and common sense around hydraulic fracturing leads to a conclusion the technology we’ve used without harm in California for 60 plus years is safe and its benefits a blessing," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), earlier this year.
"Oil drilling activities in California are strictly regulated by several agencies and the state’s oil producers are working closely with the government to develop even stronger protections to ensure the vast potential of the Monterey Shale can be realized," she claimed.
However, Reheis-Boyd fails to mention that the discharge of fracking fluid, composed of toxic chemicals that the oil industry refuses to disclose because they consider them a trade secret, presents an enormous threat to groundwater supplies, streams, fish and wildlife.
In the most recent example of the threat to the environment and human health that fracking poses, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board on November 15 ordered an oil company, Vintage Production California LLC, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Company, to pay a $60,000 penalty for discharging hydraulic fracturing fluid into an unlined sump in violation of the California Water Code.
The penalty is the result of a settlement agreement between Vintage and the Water Board's prosecution team, and is the maximum penalty allowable under the state Water Code.
"The prosecution team’s investigation determined that Vintage periodically discharged saline water, formation fluids, and hydraulic fracturing fluid to an unlined sump for 12 days," according to a Water Board news release. "The sump was next to a newly drilled Vintage oil well near the City of Shafter in Kern County. The prosecution team concluded the discharge posed a threat to groundwater quality and that Vintage violated the Water Code for the unpermitted discharge of wastewater to land."
The investigation that led to the settlement began immediately after a YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxb671gbmkY was brought to the prosecution team’s attention.
The team issued an investigative order under Water Code Section 13267 that required Vintage to provide a technical report with specific details about the operation of the well and the discharges to the sump.
After reviewing the submitted technical information, the prosecution team issued a Notice of Violation to Vintage for the discharge of fluids to the sump for 12 days (September 30 through October 11, 2012) in violation of General Waiver Resolution R5-2008-0192 and Water Code Section 13350, according to the Water Board.
“The discharge of high-salinity water to unlined sumps in areas with good quality groundwater, such as at the Vintage Production site near Shafter, is not consistent with the Tulare Lake Basin Plan,” said Central Valley Water Board Executive Officer Pamela Creedon. “We are concerned that similar discharges may have occurred elsewhere throughout the Central Valley."
"Past and future drilling operations will be evaluated to ensure that operators are in compliance with Basin Plan policy. Additionally, we are presently revising General Waiver Resolution R5-2008-0192 to more specifically address oil field drilling fluid discharges to unlined sumps located in the Central Valley," she stated.
Creedon said Vintage agreed to cease discharging to unlined sumps in agricultural areas - and the company is "voluntarily investigating" the leaching potential of the solidified material in the closed sump.
Opponents of fracking point out that incidents like this one will become increasing common as oil companies ramp up fracking and acidizing operations to extract oil from Monterey Shale deposits in the Central Valley and coastal areas. On September 20, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, legislation that gives the green light to the expansion of fracking operations in California.
The $60,000 fine is just chump change for an oil company like Occidental. The Los Angeles-based company said earnings in the third quarter of 2013 jumped more than 14% as domestic oil production increased and gas prices rose, according to the LA Times.
"The company reported a profit of $1.58 billion, or $1.96 a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30," the LA Times reported. "That was compared to $1.38 billion, or $1.69 a share, from the same quarter a year earlier. Sales jumped 8.1% to $6.45 billion."
The oil industry, represented by the Western States Petroleum Association, is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento. Big Oil wields huge influence over the Legislature, Governor's Office and state agencies through lobbying, campaign contributions and domination of regulatory processes, such as Reheis-Boyd's chairing of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.
Chevron, the Western States Petroleum Association and Aera Energy LLC spent the most money of any organizations or companies lobbying legislators in the third quarter of 2013, according to California Secretary of State documents.
Chevron spent $1,696,477, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent $1,269,478 and Aera Energy LLC spent $1,015,534. That’s a total of $3,981,489 just between July 1 and September 30, 2013. In the first three quarters of 2013, WSPA alone spent a total of $3,578,266 on lobbying legislators.
Before the release of third quarter lobbying expenditures, a report released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby has spent $45.4 million in the state influencing legislators since 2009. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009.
Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, "an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians."
The draft Settlement Agreement and Stipulation for Entry of Administrative Civil Liability Order R5-2013-0587 (Stipulated Order) is available for a 30-day public review and comment period prior to consideration by the Central Valley Water Board. The Stipulated Order is at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/board_decisions/tentative_orders/vintage_stip/vintage_stip.pdf