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Indybay Feature
Sat Dec 3 2016
The Unseen Power of Big Oil in California
Sat Dec 3 2016
Western States Petroleum Association: The Biggest Lobby Group You've Never Heard Of
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is not a household name in California and the West, but it should be. WSPA is the trade association for the oil industry and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California. It represents a who's who of oil companies including Aera Energy, Chevron, California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Shell, Valero and many others. Yet most people — even many environmental activists — have never heard of the organization and the enormous influence it wields over politicians and regulators in the western states.

While the mainstream and alternative media have published articles about aspects of WSPA's enormous influence over politics in the West, they haven't looked at the overall strategy of how WSPA and Big Oil exert their power and influence. Indybay contributor Dan Bacher explores how WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through lobbying; campaign spending; getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels; creating Astroturf groups; and working in collaboration with media.

Big Oil is the most powerful lobby in the West. However, action by committed activists can defeat Big Oil in spite of its money and power, as in the case of the Richmond City Council elections and the passage of anti-fracking ordinances in San Benito County in 2014 and Monterey County in 2016.

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See also: WSPA tops lobbyist spending with $16.6 million this session | Big Oil Money Gushes Over Sacramento, LA Times & Brown's Dirty Hands | Consumer Watchdog slams Jerry Brown over receiving $9.8 million in fossil fuel donations

Related features: Ventura Oil Spill is No Surprise | California Governor Signs Climate Bill Gutted by Big Oil | 3 Billion Gallons of Oil Industry Wastewater Illegally Dumped into Central Valley Aquifers | California's Big Oil Dirty Dozen
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