Petroleum Front Groups Focus on Pacific Northwest Next Year

The Koch Brothers and their peers in the petroleum industry pretty much own the USA now – with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and in 30 states – Wow.

But so far, they haven’t managed to squash renewable energy even with their best efforts. They plan to try even harder next year, with Americans for Prosperity and others leading the charge to eliminate or weaken state Renewable Portfolio Standards, Efficiency Standards, and getting people to pay for using solar (instead of being paid through net-metering). On the federal level, they are already hard at work making sure the wind production tax credit doesn’t get renewed, but Keystone does.

In California, the powerful Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is leading the effort to turn residents against renewable energy and prevent the state’s watershed climate plan (AB32) from being fully implemented.

They better hurry. In January, transportation fuel providers join power plants, cement factories and other big polluters in California’s successful cap-and-trade program. They will either have to lower emissions at refineries or pay for the right to pollute the air.

Leaked Internal Presentation

A leaked internal presentation reveals their coordinated campaign among at least 15 front groups that extends to Oregon and Washington. They operate under names like California Drivers Alliance, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Fed Up at the Pump, Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy, Save Our Jobs and Washingtonians for Sound Fuel Policy.

Koch - CA Front Groups

"WSPA’s new crop of front groups and the campaign behind them is indeed impressive. They are attacking climate and clean energy policies – both existing and under development – in California, Washington, and Oregon. They are engaging (and in some cases pretending to speaking on behalf of) consumers, launching petition drives, tracking and attending every policy and public forum, funding reports designed to back their interests, backing or attacking elected leaders to influence politics, and running aggressive and misleading ad campaigns. Since 2009, the oil industry has reported spending over $70 million on lobbying in California alone.

If only they showed the same determination and innovation in cleaning up their operations and developing clean energy alternatives for their customers," says Merrian Borgeson, Senior Scientist, Energy and Transportation, for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"The environmental community is used to sky-is-falling analysis from fossil fuel interests in response to clean energy initiatives, so that part isn’t surprising," Tim O’Connor, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, told Bloomberg Businessweek. "But it’s eye-opening to see the lengths [the WSPA] has gone to push back rather than move forward. I don’t think anybody knew how cross-jurisdictional, cross-border, and extensive their investment is in creating a false consumer backlash against climate legislation."

And if they can do it California, where 70% of residents are on-board, they can do it anywhere… which is their plan.

Read our article, How Did ALEC Fare in the Midterm Election?

Read NRDC’s report, Unmasked: The Oil Industry Campaign to Undermine California’s Clean Energy Future:

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