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Oil company wants to expand drilling as MPAs become effective
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 8:05 PM
"We now witness the fruit born of a Marine Life Protection Act 'Initiative' that was hijacked by oil interests," said Dave Gurney, independent journalist. "A southern California oil company wants to expand it's operations - from 3.7 miles out in federal waters, further east, to within the 3-mile limit of California state waters. They are proposing to drill up to 25 new offshore oil wells."
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Oil company wants to expand drilling as MPAs become effective

by Dan Bacher

As officials and advocates of the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative are celebrating the Department of Fish and Game's announcement that controversial new "marine protected areas" on the Southern California coast will become effective on January 1, an oil company drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel announced that it wants to expand its operations into state waters.

Pacific Operators Offshore LLC wants to drill further east onto state property off the coast of Carpinteria, California, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. "Federal officials say the company could drill as many as 25 underwater wells from Platform Hogan," reported keyt.com on December 22 (http://www.keyt.com/news/local/Proposal-to-Expand-Oil-Drilling-136015403.html.

Federal officials are evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the project. A meeting on the proposal is scheduled for January 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Carpinteria City Council Chambers.

Comments may be submitted by mail to Carpinteria EIS Coordinator, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Pacific OCS Region, 770 Paseo Camarillo, Camarillo, CA 93010-6064. They can also be sent by email to carpinteriaredevelopment [at] mrsenv.com.

MLPA panel chaired by big oil lobbyist

Rarely mentioned in corporate media reports on the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative fiasco is the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that oversaw the creation of the so-called "marine protected areas" that will go into effect on January 1. She also served on the North Coast and North Central Coast marine task forces.

Grassroots environmentalists and fishermen strongly opposed the egregious conflict of interest posed by allowing a big oil industry lobbyist to oversee the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs), especially when these MPAs fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all other uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In contrast, representatives of corporate environmental NGOs, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and other Wall Street-funded foundations, did nothing to contest Reheis-Boyd's appointment as a "marine guardian." Reheis-Boyd is a vocal advocate of new drilling off the California coast, Canadian tar sands drilling and the gutting of environmental laws.

Dave Gurney, independent journalist and publisher of the http://noyonews.net, is not surprised that the oil company wants to expand its operations at the same time that the new "marine protected areas" will go into effect.

"We now witness the fruit born of a Marine Life Protection Act 'Initiative' that was hijacked by oil interests," said Gurney. "A southern California oil company wants to expand its operations - from 3.7 miles out in federal waters, further east, to within the 3-mile limit of California state waters. They are proposing to drill up to 25 new offshore oil wells."

"The southern California MLPAI Blue Ribbon Task Force was chaired by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association," said Gurney. "She was appointed to make sure these so-called 'Marine Protected Areas' did nothing to stop oil drilling or pollution. Public outcry over a blatant conflict of interest on the MLPAI's 'Blue Ribbon Task Force' fell on deaf ears."

Conflicts of interest abound

Unfortunately, the MLPA task forces include other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interests, including a marina operator and coastal real estate executive, serving as "marine guardians."

William (Bill) Anderson, who served with Reheis-Boyd on the South Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast task forces, has been president and chief operating officer of Westrec Marinas since 1989. Westrec Marinas is the nation's largest owner and operator of waterfront marinas.

Anderson's conflict of interest arises from the fact that his business could potentially profit from where marine protected areas are or are not located.

Gregory F. Schem, who served with Reheis-Boyd on the South Coast and North Coast task forces, is president and chief executive officer of Harbor Real Estate Group, specializing in marina and waterfront real estate investments, including a marina, fuel dock, and boat yard in Marina del Rey, in addition to other California assets.

Like Anderson, Schem's company and investments could also potentially profit from where MPAs are or are not located.

"Schem has had a successful career in the national real estate market as an investor, developer and manager, including the re-development of loft residential units and hotels in Los Angeles, marinas, office buildings, shopping centers and industrial facilities," according to the DFG website (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp). "Schem has acquired in excess of $2.5 billion in real estate assets on behalf of private and public pension funds, banking institutions, and private investment groups."

However, the biggest conflict of interest in the MLPA Initiative is the private funding of the process through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. “Five non-profits, including one based in Laguna Beach, donated a total of $20 million to see the drafting process to completion since the state legislature never budgeted adequate funding for the marine-protection law, which was enacted in 1999,” according to Ted Reckas in his article, “Marine Hearings Buoyed by Nonprofits, in the Laguna Independent (http://www.lbindy.com/2011/02/11/marine-hearings-buoyed-by-nonprofits/)

A corrupt 'public-private' partnership

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a shadowy organization that funds the MLPA Initiative through a "public-private partnership" with the DFG, received the funds from these foundations to implement the unpopular MLPA process.

The David and Lucillle Packard Foundation contributed $8.2 million to fund MLPA hearings, according to Reckas. The Packard Foundation is not only the biggest funder of the MLPA, but also funded studies to build the peripheral canal, including the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report in July 2008 calling for the construction of a canal. The peripheral canal is opposed by a coalition of fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta residents.

Julie E. Packard, the executive director and founder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the foundation. Carol S. Larson is the President and Chief Executive Officer, while Susan Packard Orr serves as Chairman.

The Laguna Beach-based Marisla Foundation, founded by Getty Oil heiress Anne Getty Earhart, gave another $3 million over several years, according to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. “The most recent tax records show Marisla donated $12 million in 2008 to 50 causes, including $1.1 million towards the MLPA. A foundation spokeswoman declined comment,” noted Reckas.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation donated $7.4 million. Gordon and Betty Moore are the founders of the Foundation, and Gordon also serves as chairman of the board.
Gordon Moore is co-founder of Intel Corporation and Chairman Emeritus of the Corporation’s Board of Directors. Prior to Intel, Gordon co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957.

The Keith Campbell Foundation’s contributed $1.2 million. D. Keith Campbell founded Campbell and Company in 1972, and currently serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors.

“Campbell and Company is now one of the largest derivative investment managers in the world. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, it employs more than 130 skilled professionals, and manages approximately thirteen billion dollars. Its worldwide client base includes institutions, corporation, and individuals,” according to the foundation’s website.

Finally, the Annenberg Foundation contributed $200,000. The Annenberg Foundation is a private foundation established in 1989. It is the successor corporation to the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pennsylvania founded in 1958 by Walter H. Annenberg.

Walmart greenwashes MPAs, catch shares

Wal-Mart, through the Walton Family Foundation, is another huge contributor to ocean privatization efforts through “catch shares” programs and the creation of so-called “marine protected areas" including those created under the MLPA Initiative. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/19/wal-marting-the-oceans)

In a August 16 news release from Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation announced “investments” totaling more than $71.8 million awarded to various environmental initiatives in 2010. The foundation handed over $36 million alone to Marine Conservation grantees including Ocean Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation, Marine Stewardship Council, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The five top grantees were: Conservation International, $18,640,917; the Nature Conservancy,$9,305,449; Environmental Defense Fund, $7,086,054; the Marine Stewardship Council, $4,500,000; and the Ocean Conservancy, $3,757,768.

There is no doubt that the MLPA Initiative and other similar corporate-funded efforts have little or nothing to do with protecting the ocean - and everything to do with the privatization of the public trust by the 1 percent.

"The MLPA is the beginning of the privatization of our natural resources in California where, in an underhanded and illegal way, the decisions have been taken from the people and put into the hands of the ocean industrialists," said Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, well-respected North Coast environmental leader from Philo in Mendocino County.