Working with veteran tobacco lobbyists in Sacramento, Texan oil companies are orchestrating a campaign to roll back California’s landmark clean energy climate change law, A.B. 32. So far, the largest donations have come from San Antonio-based Valero, which has ponied up more than $1 million for the effort, and refining giant Tesoro, also based in San Antonio, contributing $525,000. Today, the Sacramento Bee reports that state Democrats are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to open an investigation into these donations.
In public, the repeal A.B. 32 campaign—given the Orwellian moniker “California Jobs Initiative”—says it is about helping low-income people, small businesses, and improving the California economy. But behind closed doors, it’s about boosting already sky-high oil company profits. According to Valero’s 10-Q corporate disclosure forms, the company views compliance with A.B. 32 as a risk to their bottom line.
According to a PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Wonk Room, Tesoro has been courting other oil companies to join their crusade to rescind A.B. 32. At an April 13 presentation to the Western States Petroleum Association, Dave Reed, a Tesoro refinery executive in Los Angeles, pitched his clean energy repeal initiative, Proposition 23. The Western States Petroleum Association is an oil trade group, like the American Petroleum Institute on the national level, that advocates for the interests of their industry, including expanded offshore drilling off California’s coast. The association is made up of many oil companies operating in California, including BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell Pipeline. Reed’s PowerPoint drives home the message that cleaning the air and diversifying California’s energy sources will have a negative “impact on [Tesoro’s] business.” View a screenshot of page 15 of the presentation below:
Shortly after Reed’s presentation, three Western States Petroleum Association members—Venoco, Occidental Oil and Gas, and Berry Petroleum—donated to the Prop 23 campaign. Other association members, like BP and ExxonMobil, have remained quiet—although it is possible these companies are secretly supporting their donations through fronts like the Adam Smith Foundation, a Missouri-based nonprofit that is mysteriously financing the repeal A.B. 32 campaign.
Leading Prop 23 proponent Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda) told the Wonk Room that he expects that his effort will raise a whopping $50 million. To date, Chevron has explicitly steered clear of the Prop 23 campaign. To gain extra funds, Valero lobbyist Mike Carpenter, a former top Philip Morris political operative, has spent the past few months recruiting other trade association support for the initiative, spending April meeting with groups like the California League of Food Processors.
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