Big Oil Spends Millions to Protect Billions

For the oil industry, this year’s legislative session was full of doomsday legislation – bills targeting petroleum use, emissions, environmental protection, and profits. For the rest of us, it was the opposite – a bright spot in the battle over climate change. It’s no surprise then that the oil industry spent $11 million on lobbying in the third quarter alone. But that’s a pittance compared to the billions of dollars in profit it was protecting. 

Leading the entire lobbying sector was the infamous Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), which threw $6.7 million at the legislature this quarter. That’s the same Western States Petroleum Association that refused to speak publicly about California’s record gasoline price spike. They sure know how to let money speak for them. WSPA spending dwarfs the second largest spender of the quarter, Chevron, whose spending was also massive: $1.8 million.

So where do California’s major oil companies get all this money to join in pay-to-play politics? From us, of course, the California drivers who throughout 2015 have been paying through the nose for gasoline while the rest of the country enjoys low prices not seen for years.

Most of California’s oil refiners had their best quarter ever in the state. Consumer Watchdog’s analysis of Tesoro’s public filings show the company, California’s second largest refiner, made $770 million in the third quarter in California – double what they made this time last year, and more than four times their quarterly average since 2005. California’s fourth largest refiner, Valero, made $342 million in the 3rd quarter, more than fourteen times what they made in the same quarter last year. Chevron, the state’s largest refiner, who refines most of their gasoline in the state, had the best first three quarters of a year they’ve ever had.

So while $11 million is a lot for oil companies to spend on lobbying, it’s a small investment to protect the billions of dollars in profits the companies are enjoying at the expense of Californians.

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