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LA Times and Big Oil team up on oil industry propaganda website
by Dan Bacher
Saturday Oct 31st, 2015 12:41 PM
After Clean Energy California and other environmental groups criticized the collusion between the LA Times and Big Oil, the Times changed the copyright disclaimer to remove any mention of the publication. It also added an additional statement on the Powering California website claiming:

"Powering California is sponsored content produced by The Los Angeles Times Content Solutions team for California Resources Corporation. The Los Angeles Times reporting and editing staffs are not involved in the production of sponsored content, including Powering California."
powering-california-sponsored-content.jpg
LA Times and Big Oil team up on oil industry propaganda website

by Dan Bacher

The Los Angeles Times and the California Resources Corporation, an Occidental Petroleum spinoff, have teamed up to create "Powering California," a Big Oil propaganda campaign website, as exposed by Clean Energy California.

The environmental group broke the story on their twitter page when they published an October 27 tweet from Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, promoting the new site.

Reheis-Boyd tweeted, "Learn how California's #energy industry is quietly elevating the middle class & improving our quality of life: http://poweringcalifornia.com/"

The website, produced by a supposedly "independent" department of the Los Angeles Times, proclaims: "California oil and natural gas mean growth. They mean jobs. And, Californians need ample, affordable and reliable energy to thrive – to power our homes, farms, businesses and schools, fuel our cars, and produce products that we need and use every day."

Media Matters and the LA Weekly have written good articles on this controversy, although both fall short of telling the bigger story - the capture of the regulatory apparatus and the corporate media in California by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and oil industry for many years, something I have written article after article about.

Andrew Seifter of Media Matters wrote on October 30:

"As newspapers' ad revenues have fallen over the years, prestigious publications have been going to increasingly extraordinary lengths to make up for the financial shortfall. Consider the Los Angeles Times, which has recently provided prime front page real estate to advertisements for companies like American Airlines and products like the Universal Studios film, Minions.

But while these kinds of advertising arrangements aren't particularly new for the Times, the same cannot be said for a newly-launched oil industry propaganda website the newspaper created for California Resources Corporation, an oil and gas spin-off company of Occidental Petroleum. The website, called poweringcalifornia.com, has raised concerns despite assurances from the Times that it is produced by a department of the Times company that is wholly independent of the reporting and editorial staff.

The Powering California website features a fearmongering video that asks viewers to 'imagine a day without oil' as a young man helplessly watches many of the products he relies on every day suddenly disappear. The site's text asserts that because 'a majority of products that you use every day are made from petroleum,' a day without oil and natural gas 'would be a huge disruption for you and the people you depend on.' It goes on to allege that a day without oil could even be 'life-threatening.'

After Western States Petroleum Association President Cathy Reheis-Boyd promoted the website in an October 27 tweet, it caught the attention of Clean Energy California, a non-profit organization that worked with businesses, consumer, health, faith, labor and environmental groups to pass Senate Bill 350, California's landmark climate change legislation. Specifically, Clean Energy California asked why the Los Angeles Times and its parent company, Tribune Publishing, were sponsoring this 'oil propaganda project.'"

You can read the full Media Matters article here: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/10/30/in-quest-for-revenue-la-times-creates-oil-indus/206532

The original disclaimer on the Powering California website, published on the Clean Energy California twitter page, identified it as "a joint copyrighted effort of the Los Angeles Times and the California Resources Corporation," Politico reported on October 29. (http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/california-playbook/2015/10/politico-california-playbook-presented-by-phrma-steinbergs-mayoral-precedent-marijuana-bonanza-hondas-big-dem-backing-210994)

After Clean Energy California and other environmental groups criticized the collusion between the LA Times and Big Oil, the Times changed the copyright disclaimer to remove any mention of the publication. It also added an additional statement on the Powering California website claiming:

"Powering California is sponsored content produced by The Los Angeles Times Content Solutions team for California Resources Corporation. The Los Angeles Times reporting and editing staffs are not involved in the production of sponsored content, including Powering California."

According to Gene Maddeus of the LA Weekly, "Hillary Manning, a Times spokeswoman, said that sponsored content is independently researched and edited by the Times' Content Solutions team." (http://www.laweekly.com/news/who-can-save-journalism-big-oil-apparently-6224796)

"CRC asked us to research and write factual information about oil and gas production in California to contribute to the public discussion of energy policy in the state," Manning said via email. "[T]he L.A. Times applies the same standards of accuracy and completeness it uses to create its own content."

Now if you can believe what Manning said in that email about "accuracy and completeness," then I have three bridges - the Golden Gate, Bay Bridge and Richmond-San Rafael bridges - to sell you!

I am glad that Media Matters and the LA Weekly are covering this controversial story that sheds the light on WSPA and the oil industry's collaboration with corporate media. While it is disgusting that the LA Times is doing the oil industry's dirty work, I must say this is no surprise at all to me because the Times and other mainstream media have letting Big Oil off the hook in their reporting and editorials for years.

For example, the LA Times failed to do its job covering the huge scandal of the illegal dumping of nearly 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater, as revealed in a Center for Biological Diversity report in October 2014. Because of corporate media neglect of this story, Project Censored cited two of my articles in its #2 story of 2014-2015: Oil Industry's Illegal Dumping of Wastewater: http://www.projectcensored.org/oil-industry-illegally-dumps-fracking-wastewater/

In addition, you won't find in the LA Times or other corporate media outlets any information about one of the biggest conflict of interest stories in California environmental history – the key leadership role that a big oil lobbyist played in the creation of questionable “marine protected areas” in California. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the WSPA President, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering.

At the same time that Reheis-Boyd, other state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates were claiming that one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history was "open, transparent and inclusive," the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters. To this date, the LA Times and corporate media refuse to discuss the Big Oil lobbyist's leadership role in the creation of so-called "marine protected areas," including those that were imperiled by the Refugio Oil Spill in the Southern California this spring and summer.

For more information, you can read my articles that are cited on the Project Censored website and in their just released book:

Dan Bacher, “Massive Dumping of Wastewater into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California,” IndyBay, October 11, 2014, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/11/18762739.php.

Dan Bacher, “Senators Opposing Fracking Moratorium Received 14x More Money from Big Oil,” IndyBay, June 7, 2014, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/07/18757051.php.

You can also read about the Project Censored Top 10 here:
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/censored-ten-big-stories-the-news-media-ignored/Content?oid=4536284
https://www.newsreview.com/reno/censored-ten-big-stories/content?oid=18830959
http://www.projectcensored.org/oil-industry-illegally-dumps-fracking-wastewater/