Los Angeles County Non-Profit Fronts for Big Oil

Big Oil has a long track record of using front groups to protect its interests and mislead Californians. But who would have guessed that a non-profit group created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would be one of them? 
At least that's the impression I got after I followed an advertisement about how much taxes the oil industry pays in California, and it took me to a report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). The group was started by the Board to spur investment. But if you dig a little deeper into its oil industry report, you'll find that it was funded by - wait for it - Big Oil's mouthpiece, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA)
The report’s bias was clear in the title, "The Oil and Gas Industry in California: Its Economic Contribution and Workforce." Believe it or not, just two months ago, they wrote another report for WSPA – this one on how important their impact on our state’s GDP is.
Not only is it obvious that the report was framed to be positive about the oil industry from the get-go, it does not even attempt to include the impact of the industry on the environment, workers, or the health of their california neighbors - all of which constitute considerable costs to the state and healthcare system. The report glosses over important statistics, with no statement on its impact on California families. For example, it states simply that, "males represent 69 percent of the workforce." The is one of the most lopsided gender gaps in any American industry, with absolutely no mention of the need for reforms.
In fact, aside from LAEDC writing the pro-oil report with questionable analysis, reviewing other studies the nonprofit has issued, it became clear that the group often exchanges money for economic analysis that benefits the funders.
A report about the great investment between Taiwan and Los Angeles? Sponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office – (literally the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China). Its report on the impact of building an NFL stadium in Carson? Sponsored by the Chargers and Raiders – the would-be tenants of the stadium.
How on Earth can we trust the LAEDC to give a true assessment of these issues when they are being paid by interested parties? The NFL report goes into exactly how much money and how many jobs the stadium will produce – all with the caveat ‘Source: estimates by LAEDC’. But what about the people of the neighborhood? LAEDC's "About Page" says “We believe L.A. County’s future prosperity is about our people” – perhaps they should start writing reports with this in mind.
The bias becomes a cliché when you look at the executive committee, which includes executives from Kaiser Permanente, Chevron, American Airlines, Bank of America, Southern California Edison, WSPA and Time Warner Cable – among many others. Where are the regular people they speak of in their mission statement? The public seems to be just an afterthought to the money the group brings in for the pay-for-report business model.
The organization thrives on its connection to LA County – including using the seal of the County as its main symbol (which seems very misleading). Whatever the group was when it was created in 1981 - it says it's for the "public benefit" - it is a new beast today. One that exists to serve industry – not Californians. 

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